Conditions During Pregnancy

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Morning Sickness

An official study has actually been done to see if acupuncture really helps women overcome or deal with morning sickness. In the study there were over 30 women that received acupuncture treatments for a period of two weeks. The women that received the true acupuncture treatments reported an overwhelming success rate with more than 75% of the women feeling much better after just a couple days time. The acupuncture was able to stop the vomiting and even do away with the nausea for a lot of women, too.

Breech Presentation(Bottom First)

Breech presentation is very common in pregnancy and most babies (96-97%) will turn to head first by full term. If your baby persists as breech you may be offered an ECV (external cephalic version) by your obstetrician which involves manipulating the baby through your abdomen, to a head first (cephalic) presentation.

Moxibustion is another option to encourage your baby to turn to head first and much used in Traditional Eastern Medicine. It involves warming an acupuncture point located at the corner of the little toes (Bladder 67) on both feet. Studies suggest that heating this point for 10-15 minutes daily for 7-14 days increases fetal movements and encourages babies to turn to head first (Cardini and Huang, 1998).

Success rates of 53.6% -81% have been reported in studies. The best time to start treatment appears to be around 34 weeks. Studies have also shown that moxibustion appears to be a safe option.

Pre-birth Acupuncture to Prepare for Labour

Pre-birth acupuncture treatment involves a series of 2 to 3 times a week treatments starting at 36-37 weeks gestation to prepare the mother and baby for labour. The points used are chosen based on the woman’s constitution and normally consist of 4-5 points located on the arms and legs (belly points are never used in pregnant women!) Pre-birth acupuncture works on several levels. On a physical level, it helps ripen the cervix, move the baby into an anterior position, increase stamina, and help resolve other concerns often encountered in pregnancy such as back pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, and carpal tunnel syndrome. On an emotional level, it can help the mother prepare for labour and the transition to motherhood, whether it’s for the first time or a subsequent pregnancy.

A clinical study in New Zealand (Betts & Lennox, 2006) showed that women having pre-birth acupuncture had a

  • 35% reduction in medical inductions (43% in women having their first baby)
  • 31% reduction in the epidurals
  • 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery
  • 9% increase in normal vaginal births

Acupuncture for labour induction is used successfully to promote labour naturally when a women is past her due date. 45 women on their due dates were randomised into either an acupuncture group or a control group to assess the effects of acupuncture on cervical ripening. The study concluded that acupuncture can shorten the time interval between the women’s expected due date of delivery and time of delivery. The time from the woman’s due date to delivery was an average of 5 days in the acupuncture group and 7.9 days in the control group. Labour was medically induced in 20% of women in the acupuncture group compared to 35% in the control group (Acupuncture for cervical ripening and labour induction at term – a randomised control trial. 2001. 113 (23-24): 942-6.)

The benefits of acupuncture for labour induction are:

  • Influences cervical dilation and ripening
  • Naturally stimulates uterine contractions
  • Reduces time from due date to delivery
  • Reduces likelyhood of medical induction
  • Reduces the rate of epidural anaesthesia
  • Provides relaxation in cases of emotional distress
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