Preparing for labor and delivery
Many women are interested in trying for a medication-free labor and delivery as well. I always remind my patients that labor and delivery is unpredictable, and that they should not judge themselves harshly if an intervention becomes necessary. If it is important to you to try, though, I believe preparing the body with acupuncture and learning some basic acupressure points for pain relief can increase your chances of success. In my clinic I use specific “pre-birth” acupuncture protocols starting at week 37. These protocols were developed by nurse midwives in Europe and New Zealand. A 2004 observational study (Betts & Lenox) examining the effects of prebirth acupuncture found that there was a 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women having their first baby, it was a 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate.
I also teach women and their labor partners how to use acupressure for pain relief during labor as part of those “pre-birth” acupuncture treatments. Acupressure was a very effective form of pain management for me during both of my deliveries. Here’s a free guide on acupressure for labor and delivery.
Helping with breech presentation
Many women contact me about using acupuncture or moxibustion for babies who are breech. While I don’t do moxibustion on patients for breech presentation (it is considered an obstetrical procedure), it is a safe and effective strategy for breech presentation. You can read an article about the efficacy of moxibustion for breech babies in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Moxibustion is very easy to do at home. Here is a video with acupuncturist Lorne Brown explaining the technique in more detail.
My youngest son was breech, so I had a chance to try this technique out on myself. I did moxa every day for about twenty minutes on UB 67 for ten days in a row. He would always get quite active for the next thirty minutes, which is typical. After doing the moxa, I would hang off the end of my bed to try and give him more room to move. Check out Spinning Babies for more information on fetal positioning. On the fifth or sixth night, I laid down to go to sleep and felt like my stomach turned over–kind of like the sensation you get on a roller coster. I think this was him flipping himself over, because at my next visit with the midwife he was head down.
Postpartum care and a woman’s “Golden Month”
New mothers are often so focused on planning for the birth of their child that they don’t leave time to think about their own postpartum recovery. In China, the month after a woman gives birth is called her “Golden Month”. Extended family helps with cooking, cleaning, and childcare, giving the mother time to nurse, rest, and recover. While you may not be able to have a full “Golden Month”, there are many things you can do to help with your postpartum recovery. Here is my Postpartum Recovery Guide
I see women throughout their pregnancies for a variety of concerns. Many women want to see if they can avoid medication and use acupuncture instead for the common problems of nausea, pain, or mood disorders. Since acupuncture is a very safe therapy, the simple answer is “yes”—my patients find acupuncture to be helpful for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, heartburn, fatigue, low back pain, hip pain, and mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety.