I’m excited to give you the first in a series of posts about how acupuncture can help women have an easier, healthier pregnancy. The series will be divided by trimester and which issues acupuncture can address in each.
The first trimester is a very exciting time but for some women can be the most difficult. Morning sickness, fatigue, a lowered immune system (resulting in more colds) and heartburn are common discomforts of early pregnancy. In addition, women who suffer from migraines or depression may be faced with the decision to stop medications. These are all situations where acupuncture can help.
Acupuncture for Morning Sickness:
Morning sickness affects about 90% of women in the first trimester, and can vary greatly from person to person. From a slight “icky” feeling to uncontrollable vomiting several times per day, it can make your normal routine difficult to maintain. The most common acupuncture point used for treatment of morning sickness is called Pericardium 6 (Neiguan) and is located on the inner wrist, about 2 inches up from the wrist crease. I recommend self-acupressure on this point in addition to twice weekly acupuncture sessions. There are several other acupuncture points which I’ve found are fantastic for alleviating morning sickness, and I combine these with points specific to your health history and constitution. For morning sickness I also recommend frequent snacks, including having a few crackers when you (inevitably) wake up at 2am to go to the bathroom. This keeps your blood sugar at a steadier level and seems to decrease the nausea first thing in the morning. Sweet and sour flavors such as lemon water or sour jolly rancher candies can help a lot too. Last but not least, my patients always tell me that when they are run-down or tired, the nausea is worse. This is a signal that your body needs more rest than you are used to. Take a close look at which activities are really necessary and which can wait until you are feeling better again.
Acupuncture for Depression and Anxiety during Pregnancy
Although antidepressant use during pregnancy is considered to be safer for mother and baby than leaving the depression untreated, some women will decide with their doctors that they would like to try weaning off their medication. This is one case in which acupuncture in combination with talk therapy can be very helpful. Acupuncture can help to stabilize your mood, decrease anxiety and smooth the transition while gradually decreasing your medication. It is completely safe and free of unpleasant side effects.
Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines during Pregnancy
If you regularly take preventive headache or migraine medication, it may be necessary to stop or adjust during pregnancy for safety reasons. For some women, migraines will naturally decrease or stop altogether during pregnancy. For those who don’t find relief or experience migraines for the first time during pregnancy, acupuncture can help greatly. There is loads of evidence for acupuncture’s efficacy in treating migraines and headaches. It can both reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, whether they are with or without aura.