With so many pregnant women coming through my doors, I thought it would be quite appropriate to do a series on acupuncture and pregnancy. While we have delved in previous posts into the role of acupuncture in assisting with conception, whether that be through supporting natural or assisted conception. The question you now may be asking is what comes once you are pregnant? How can acupuncture help during pregnancy and is it beneficial? While many of my clients I see throughout the entire process from conception to pregnancy, birth preparation and post-partum care. I equally see some women at only one or some of those stages, depending on where they are at and what they may or may not know about acupuncture, fertility and pregnancy. Acupuncture isn’t just beneficial pre and post pregnancy, but is an amazing non-invasive, safe treatment that can really support the body and assist with symptoms throughout your entire pregnancy. 

Being pregnant can be such an exciting time, but equally it can also be challenging both physically and emotionally, not to mention overwhelming as well. So how can acupuncture be of support during pregnancy?

First trimester (0-12 weeks)

The first trimester is often a time where you might feel overwhelmed and unsure, particularly if it’s your first time. Equally for many women it can be a time when anxiety is heightened, especially if they have been trying to conceive for a long time or have gone through previous miscarriages. Many women also experience morning sickness, nausea, as well as fatigue, digestive issues and constipation as their body adjusts to being pregnant. In these initial twelve weeks I recommend weekly treatments depending on your symptoms to support the body during what can be a challenging time. Acupuncture aims to regulate the flow of energy in the body and can assist with not just the physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea and constipation etc, but can also help calm the body and the mind assisting with anxiety, worry and that feeling of overwhelm.  

Acupuncture- extra support during pregnancy

The first trimester is also a time where I help set my clients up as I like to call it. Many women are often overwhelmed, unsure of what to do and if they have gone down the IVF path more often than not have not received any further support. I can help not just with the physical and the emotional symptoms, but I also assist with getting the right supplementation regime happening for you, ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition, as well as connecting you with your birthing tribe. I have a beautiful network of midwives, doulas, birth support people I can connect you with, as well as local obstetricians if you are choosing to go private. As I like to say there is no shortage of business cards to go around and being handed out. It’s really important for me to not just treat my clients, but to support and hold space for them and assist them in finding the right support team for their journey into motherhood. Acupuncture along with the right additional support will go such a long way in helping you through this time of huge change. 

Second Trimester (12-28 weeks)

This is often a time where women develop that pregnancy glow. A time of celebrating as you begin to tell family and friends your exciting news knowing that baby is safe and well. It is also often referred to as the ‘nesting time’ as you begin to prepare for babies’ arrival. Often morning sickness will resolve or ease during this time, as the body begins to become more balanced. During the second trimester acupuncture treatments are usually less often and more for maintenance every fortnight or once a month, unless any health concerns or symptoms arise that may need more frequent appointments. As the relaxin hormone kicks in and your body starts to stretch making space for baby to grow, some women may experience some pelvic and lower back pain, swelling of the ankles, fingers or face, sciatica, pubic symphysis, heartburn, reflux or gestational diabetes etc. Acupuncture can be very supportive during this time if any of these symptoms or other symptoms arise. But equally regular maintenance appointments are also recommended and extremely beneficial in continuing to support the body and your baby as it continues to grow and develop. 

Third trimester (35-38 weeks)

In the third trimester the focus of acupuncture treatments changes to preparing your body for birth and the arrival of baby. It is about calming everything down, not just the body but the mind as well, assisting you to feel settled and ready. Reducing any worry or anxiety around labour and making sure your body is in the most optimum position for the natural mechanisms of birth to occur. Helping you to reconnect to your own body, to become aware of its cues and also to ensure you are resting, relaxed and asking for support when needed, so that you can take time to enjoy these last few weeks and feel ready and calm to give birth. 

The 38-42 week period is known as the due date period. This is a time where acupuncture can assist in preparing the body for labour, helping to support it to naturally open up and to ensure baby is in the right birthing position. I will delve more into birth preparation and the role of acupuncture during this time in next month’s blog post. 

Acupuncture during pregnancy- it is never too late or too early to start

As a mum myself of four beautiful children I know how overwhelming and equally beautiful the journey of pregnancy can be. Acupuncture can be such a beneficial tool during pregnancy and is something I highly recommend. No matter where you are at during your pregnancy or conception journey, acupuncture is something that can always assist in supporting you and your body and your journey to parenthood. If you would like support during this exciting time please get in touch, I would love to be able to guide you through your pregnancy journey and help you to feel supported, relaxed, well and calm.  

References

Ee,C.C., Manheimer, E., Pirotta, M.V. and White, A.R. (2008). Acupuncture for pelvic and back pain in pregnancy: a systematic review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, [online] 198(3), pp.254-259. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18313444/.

Lou, S., Frumer, M., Schlütter, M. M., Petersen, O. B., Vogel, I., & Nielsen, C. P. (2017). Experiences and expectations in the first trimester of pregnancy: a qualitative study. Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy, 20(6), 1320–1329. doi:10.1111/hex.12572.

Manber, R., Schnyer, R.N., Lyell, D., Chambers, A.S., Caughey, A.B., Druzin, M., Carlyle, E., Gress, J.L., Huang, M.I., Kalista, T., Martin-Okada, R. and Allen, J.J.B. (2010). Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 115(3), pp5.11-520. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20177281/.

Manual Acupuncture Reduces Hyperemesis Gravidarum: A Placebo- Controlled, Randomized, Single-Blind, Crossover Study. (2000). Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, [online] 20 (4), pp.273-279. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0885392400001858.