Think acupuncture is an ‘alternative’ therapy which is a bit of hit and miss? Bear this in mind: acupuncture is a 2000+ year old, repeatedly and consistently, tried, tested and documented worldwide practice. And more recently, it’s become an increasingly popular choice for pregnant women wanting to induce labor.
Acupuncture is a complete system of medicine – recognised by the World Health Organization as a treatment for many conditions. Unfortunately, most people see modern medicine as the ‘gold standard’ and most superior care in current society. This is sadly why we often don’t hear our family doctors recommending Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to compliment or replace medical treatments.
Yet in hospitals in China, many doctors do rounds using acupuncture to assist patients with their treatment.
Is induction acupuncture safe for me and my baby?
Absolutely, and especially so in Victoria, Australia, where practitioners of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Herbs, must be registered by and adhere to the strict policies and procedures of The Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria. A government body established to protect both the public and the professionals from (amongst other things) sub standard practices.
What if I have an existing medical condition, e.g. high blood pressure or gestational diabetes?
Every relevant pre-existing medical condition will be asked after in your initial visit and will be represented in the diagnoses, these often respond very well to acupuncture as well so if there are early signs of such conditions we can help with the management of the symptoms. Acupuncture has been shown to be a very effective complementary medicine often improving the response to the standard medical treatment.
Is induction acupuncture safe for someone who’s had a cesarean?
That’s a really good question and the short answer is yes. If this person is seeking to have a VBAC then I believe acupuncture should form a part of their strategy. As long as the baby is still in there it’s not too late to have a session. Acupuncture can be started at any stage and different Dr’s (CHM) will have different opinions and preferences. As it constitutes a treatment for the scar, I personally believe it’s better to get the sessions underway earlier rather than later if the option is there!
How long does induction acupuncture take to work?
Ah the 64,000 dollar question! No one knows for sure, as we’re talking about Chinese Medicine. The philosophy (not to mention duty of care) doesn’t permit a practitioner to attempt to force something to happen. For this reason, I think the term induction is possibly used out of context, as we’re not inducing or causing childbirth so much as encouraging the natural onset of labor. The stories you hear of mothers going into labor in the acupuncture session are not so much because the acupuncture caused the labor but that the acupuncture released an energetic blockage that was preventing the normal onset of labor from occurring.
When should I start having induction acupuncture?
For the reason above, pre-labor sessions are the best way to approach a natural onset of labor. This is because in late term pregnancy, things get a bit harder. There’s physical stress from a bigger baby, sometimes there’s worry… people put themselves under extra pressure without realising it. Less sleep at night and perhaps a two year old hanging off them… it goes on!
The cumulative effect is sometimes baby stays in a bit longer. Additionally, too much stock is put into due dates. I don’t have an answer for it, as it’s just human nature to cling to a date and then get concerned when it passes, especially for the first one. But from a relaxation point of view, accepting things as they are and building confidence and strength to have a baby, acupuncture is fantastic.
What can I expect in my acupuncture session? What about my belly?
A typical first session involves taking some history (how’s the pregnancy been? etc.), lots of idle chit chat, a few laughs, a quick look at your tongue, pulse taking on the wrists, lots of pillows, lying either on your most comfortable side or propped up sitting, some acupuncture guided by yourself for comfort, usually somewhere between 4 and 8 points on the arms and legs. Then once you’re very relaxed, 20 – 40 mins of treatment time. Your belly is supported, no needles will go near there in a typical session (except VBAC of course).
Are there any side effects? Should I rest after a treatment?
After treatment, what you do depends on why you’re there and how much energy you have. Some women will be asked to rest, others to have some gentle exercise. There may be an increase in the movement of your baby as they respond to your new state of relaxation. There may be an increase in braxton hicks – it’s really on an individual basis.
How else will acupuncture help my labor?
The treatment principles I employ are; calm the mind (to get some rest), strengthen the energy (for when the contractions start), gently move the energy around baby so they are inclined to drop into the correct position if not yet engaged, or if they are, to engage further, this moving of the energy also helps mums physical processes occur in a timely fashion. The end result being when labor starts, the mother is ready to birth her baby, and baby is ready to arrive at the same time!
Can acupuncture help me after the birth of my baby?
After the birth of your new baby, your body has some adjustment to make, acupuncture can assist by again strengthening your body to speed up recovery, usually no needles for the 1st week or two postpartum just ‘mother warming’ to put some energy back into the spot previously occupied by baby, this is a warming technique that is designed to strengthen your Kidney energy after delivering baby as it taxes this particular aspect of your energy a lot.
Also letting milk down and ensuring good and even supply, help with any problems possibly encountered due to birthing from haemorrhoids (and yes, you leave your pants on for this treatment!) to exhaustion.
What about Chinese herbs – can I take them and do they help?
I believe Chinese Herbs can definitely help, they are not necessarily a part of your treatment, however they do form an integral part of CM generally, they are administered on an individual basis so if you need them, dosage etc. will be defined for you at your appointment. Please ensure that your practitioner is qualified to administer herbs and has experience in the specific area of expertise.
What should I look for when finding an acupuncturist?
Experience in this area of expertise, association membership or registration with the CMRB if in Victoria, and the good news is that recently the establishment of a national board was approved which is great news for everyone who wishes to make use of this 2000+ year old, repeatedly, consistently, tried and tested, and documented, worldwide practised and complete system of medicine.
Acupuncture Feedback & Stories
“I was so skeptical about acupuncture until I found out I was pregnant. I had a huge panic attack and ended up in hospital, as my heart rate was very high. I had severe insomnia, I couldn’t drink or eat for three days, and weight dropped dramatically. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get my heart to slow down, and I was getting very concerned about the baby.
I found a great acupuncturist who was absolutely amazing and I will continue to see them for years to come. Within two months of acupuncture treatments on a fortnightly basis, I was able to not only control but actually get rid of the anxiety.
I continued to see my acupuncturist throughout my pregnancy for different reasons, as I no longer needed anxiety treatment. She assisted with headaches, huge break outs and morning sickness. Near the end of my pregnancy she induced me at 40 weeks (I was given a deadline due to a previous cesarean) and that night I had the show. Soon after, my son was born vaginally in a 10 minute active labor.
My anxiety had a lot to do with the previous cesarean and a death in the family. I continue to go to acupuncture every 3 months and it’s for pure relaxation.” – Daniela