TCM is a monthly column where Jon Hanlon, a Chinese medical practitioner, explores an aspect of Chinese healing practices.
Congratulations you’re pregnant! Now what? There is a lot of pressure on mums-to-be to ‘do the right thing’ during pregnancy. No alcohol, no smoking, just enough exercise, no soft cheese, no cold meat – on and on the list goes. One wrong move, and 18 years from now your child may be suing you because she didn’t get accepted into Harvard… must have been because you didn’t eat organic while you were pregnant with her. So, do you need to have acupuncture to have the healthiest pregnancy, and is it safe to do so?
First of all, yes it is absolutely safe. I sometimes hear people say that acupuncture is risky in the first trimester, but that simply isn’t true. Pregnancy is not a dangerous affliction and your unborn baby is not trying to abandon ship at any moment. What is true is that there are some acupuncture points that shouldn’t be used because they have a downward moving effect on your qi (energy); we use these points to induce labor if you go past the due date.
But ALL acupuncturists are taught this, again and again, during training. So assuming that you are seeing a properly trained acupuncturist, you can safely have acupuncture for the entire nine months. Hint: any acupuncturist who has completed a standard four- or five-year university program in Chinese medicine can safely treat you during pregnancy.
The standard plan for my pregnant patients is acupuncture once a week for the first 12 weeks, then once a month for the next four to five months and finally once a week for the last five or six weeks. Treatments are focused on building qi and blood as both of these are easily depleted during pregnancy. Special attention is given to nourishing kidney qi since it is the source of the energy needed for growth and development.
Aside from maintaining your health, acupuncture is useful for combating a range of pregnancy-related conditions. Morning sickness, fatigue, constipation, anxiety and back pain can all be assuaged, and breech babies can often be turned.
But is acupuncture essential for a healthy pregnancy? If you fell pregnant easily, have no history of miscarriage and were fairly robust before or during your pregnancy, then you can probably do without regular acupuncture. Instead, just have one consultation in your first trimester to see that you are well-balanced, and then weekly in the last five to six weeks.
Why? Because several research studies have found that acupuncture at the end of pregnancy reduces the time a woman spends in labor and reduces her need for pain medication while giving birth. Research has also shown that women who get acupuncture are less likely to go past their due dates and less likely to need intervention during delivery.
On-time, shorter and less painful childbirth – who wouldn’t want those amazing benefits?
Jon Hanlon is a Chinese medical practitioner, raised in the US, trained in Australia, now healing the sick in Guangzhou. You can contact him for a booking on 185 0202 5594 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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