New Medicine for Family Planning: The Future of Childbirth
Though established over 2500 years ago, acupuncture is only recently being incorporated in the Western world in family planning.
Eastern science can help through the entire perinatal period:
Fertility Most clients come for acupuncture after trying on their own many for many months, or while undergoing infertility treatments. Acupuncture can be very helpful even in the early stages of trying to get pregnant, regulating cycles, optimizing successful initial pregnancy and maintenance through term until delivery. Moreover, treatments can help during IVF procedures, as an adjunct to help stimulate follicles, maintain the embryo implantation, and decrease side effects of hormonal injections. Women undergoing egg retrieval will also benefit from decreasing side effects of injections with hormones. With acupuncture added during fertility treatments, I have seen the number of follicles increase from 10 to 30!
Rather than suffer through the first trimester with nausea, many women find great benefit from acupuncture with helping reduce and eliminate the symptoms of morning sickness.
Low Back Pain and Shoulder Pain
As the baby grows in pregnancy, changes in posture occur leading to low back pain and shoulder pain. Many pain conditions - especially muscle tension - can be safely alleviated with the use of acupuncture.
Many patients who are are pregnant cannot take their regular medications for other conditions as they will affect the growth of the baby. Rather than take these medications, acupuncture can be used safely without harm and great benefit.
"I have been receiving acupuncture treatment from Seetal since her time in Boston and then I have continued to follow her to L.A. Yes, I fly out to get acupuncture treatment from her, she's that good. I have been a migraine sufferer for years and during my pregnancy the pain has been unbearable. Being pregnant and unable to take my usual medication to treat my migraines, acupuncture (and Seetal!) has been my savior. Being so desperate for pain relief, I fly out to see her for care. I receive monthly treatment from her and has not had single migraine or headache during the treatment period. Of course, I have seen other acupuncturist..., SEVEN other acupuncturists. Nobody has been able to help. Seetal is kind, caring, fun to chat with, and most importantly she is smart and really good at what she does. I highly recommend her."
- J.T., Seattle, WA, October, 2016
Malposition of Fetus
Before birth, the most common position of the fetus for vaginal birth is with the head down and the buttocks up. Malposition means that the fetus's head is in improper position in relation to the mother's pelvis. The breech position is the most common malposition, typically with the legs or buttocks coming out first in delivery. Typically the baby will flip to the appropriate position by 34 weeks. If this has not occurred, acupuncture can help the baby turn to the appropriate head down position. Usually moxa is used in conjunction with needle placement; an herb (moxa or mugwort) is burned safely on the skin to add extra heat application and strengthen the acupuncture treatment.
Induction of Labor
Rather than have chemical induction, acupuncture can help start the labor process. Sometimes the effect is immediate, and sometimes it may take several sessions. Acupuncture decreases the oxytocin requirement to induce labor. Shortening the active phase of labor can decrease complications that could be fatal, including low Apgar scores, nerve injury, infections, maternal complications such as infections and postpartum hemorrhage. (1)
"I saw Dr. Cheema to receive acupuncture to help induce labor when I was a week past my due date. She was kind, gentle, compassionate, and dedicated to her skill. I had never had acupuncture before and was hesitant about the use of needles, but it didn't hurt at all and she continued to check in with me throughout the process to make sure I was comfortable. I also appreciated her background both in traditional and integrative medicine. I would recommend her most highly."
–Stephanie B., September 2013
Decrease Pain during and after Childbirth
According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada in 2018, “To help women cope with normal labour, nonpharmacological approaches are recommended as a safe first-line method for pain relief and should be continued throughout labor whether or not pharmacologic methods are used.” Randomized controlled trials have shown that acupuncture and electroacupuncture ease pain (i.e. patients are less likely to use other analgesics) and/or facilitate labour. Specifically, acupuncture and/or electroacupuncture can help with cervical dilation, descent of baby, perineal relaxation, soothing of mother, greater sense of control, pain during labour, and fewer instrumental deliveries. (2)
Our country is currently in the middle of an opioid epidemic. Many patients have been prescribed opioids without choice of alternative treatments, and now are unfortunately addicted to these medications. Acupuncture provides an alternative to traditionally used medications which have high negative side effects. According to a report in the Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2017, “Acupuncture’s cost-effectiveness can dramatically decrease health care expenditures, both from the standpoint of treating acute pain and through avoiding addiction to opioids that requires costly care, destroys quality of life, and can lead to fatal overdose.” (3)
The benefit of enhancing one's mood with acupuncture is of extreme significance. Eastern medicine can decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The months after having a baby can be very stressful, with adjusting to the changes of becoming a parent and lack of sleep. New moms are cautious about starting new medications while breastfeeding. Taking some time for self-care is extremely important as a parent, and finding ways to stay healthy - both in body and mind - will help you be more focused and energized to be the provider for your new baby.
(1) Asadi,et al. “Effects of Li-4 and Sp-6 Acupuncture on Labor Pain, Cortisol Level and Duration of Labor.” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies 2015; 8 (5): 249-254.
(2) Bonapace, J., et al. “No. 355-PhysiologicBasis of Pain in Labourand Delivery: An Evidence-Based Approach to its Management.” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 2018-02-01, Volume 40, Issue 2, Pages 227-245.
(3) Yin Fan,et al. “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management – White Paper 2017.” Journal of Integrative Medicine, November 2017, Vol. 15, No. 6
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