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Acupuncture for Prenatal CareAcupuncture for Prenatal Care

By Stephanie Yong, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M.

Pregnancy is an exciting and beautiful experience in a woman's life. It is also a period of vulnerability for the expectant mother because of the many changes. Many women tend to accept the discomfort and issues as a "normal" part of pregnancy. Fortunately, acupuncture is safe and effective for dealing with these problems. It is also excellent in addressing the emotional wellbeing of the expectant mother.

This is especially important since a 2010 study by UC Irvine suggests that prenatal stress, depression and anxiety are linked to adverse health outcomes for both moms and babies including preterm birth, preeclampsia and even future risk of chronic disease and obesity.

For centuries, Chinese Medicine has advocated the use of acupuncture, herbs, lifestyle and nutritional modifications throughout pregnancy to ensure the wellbeing of mothers, babies and healthy births. It also views prenatal care as a window of opportunity to enhance the health of mom and child. Below, outlines the benefits of acupuncture through each trimester of pregnancy.

FIRST TRIMESTER
At this time, resources and energy are diverted to nourish the rapid development of the baby. Weekly acupuncture is recommended during these early months to build a strong foundation, prevent miscarriage, build blood and energy supplies, and manage pregnancy symptoms. Common symptoms addressed are fatigue, nausea, headache, constipation, colds/flu, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and vaginal bleeding.
Tip: Get adequate rest, keep calm and eat often.

SECOND TRIMESTER
This is a time of change for the motherís body and tremendous growth for the baby. Acupuncture can help with digestive issues, acid reflux, pain, swelling, carpal tunnel and frequent urination. For pregnancies without complications, once a month treatments are beneficial.
Tip: Start chi gong, prenatal yoga or some form of mild to moderate exercise

THIRD TRIMESTER
During this time, the motherís body expands to accommodate the growing baby and prepares for birth. Acupuncture is used to relax the muscles in the uterus and abdomen, help the baby turn, soften the cervix, and calm the mind. Once a week treatments are recommended throughout the last trimester to promote a natural labor. A study by the University of Vienna concluded that acupuncture during the last 4 weeks before term significantly shortened labor time and reduced the need for medical intervention.
Tip: Practice quiet breathing while focusing on the lower abdomen.

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant ask your acupuncturist about the benefits of treatment for you and your baby.



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