Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for millennia in Asia. In Quebec, more and more people are now relying on acupuncture to relieve symptoms associated with a variety of disorders and conditions.
And because pregnancy comes with its allotment of bodily changes and discomforts, acupuncture is also gaining in popularity with expecting mothers. Consulting a qualified acupuncturist can have many benefits for pregnant women because it can relieve unpleasant symptoms and prepare the body for childbirth.
We spoke with Ms. Shuang Hao, an acupuncturist with Clinique GOTM who specializes in treating and helping women during this important stage in their lives.
Acupuncture focuses on the life force energy in the body. This energy, called QI in traditional Chinese medicine, flows through the body in channels called meridians. When the energy is hindered, various symptoms will appear.
Acupuncturists focus on the flow of QI by stimulating specific points throughout the meridians. Needles, which are the most widely recognized tool used in acupuncture, are used to stimulate these points. However, other techniques can be employed, such as heat, acupressure, or electric stimulation, among others.
A pregnancy causes many changes, both physical and psychological. These changes can result in symptoms that greatly impact a woman’s quality of life.
In this context, acupuncture is an ideal alternative to prescription drugs and the side effects they can have on the unborn child.
From the beginning of the pregnancy until the 36th week, Ms. Hao advises clients to undergo an acupuncture treatment once a month to relieve the various ailments associated with the first months of pregnancy: nausea, vomiting, discomforts, insomnia. During these weeks, acupuncture can also ease back, abdominal, and pelvic pain, as well as sciatica (sciatic nerve pain) which can occur during pregnancy. It can also help with blood circulation issues that cause swollen, sore legs.
At the 37th week, Ms. Hao advises her patients to undergo acupuncture sessions once a week until childbirth. These treatments can help prepare the body for giving birth in several ways and are tailored to the patient’s specific condition.
Treatments can be used to stretch the cervix and perineum and stimulate uterine contractility. This is done to prepare the patient’s body and will ease childbirth. Moreover, if the woman is overdue, acupuncture may help trigger contractions without having to rely on a medical intervention.
Another major benefit of acupuncture when pregnant is related to the baby’s position. When the baby is bottom first, the acupuncturist can help position the baby head down, which can help prevent complications associated with breeching.
Acupuncture can also greatly reduce the patient’s stress and anxiety when faced with the prospect of giving birth. Moreover, because acupuncture can relieve weakness and fatigue, the interventions in the weeks leading up to the birth will help the patient be more rested and calm.
When they first meet the patient, the acupuncturist will take the time to assess their situation and will ask them about their ailments and symptoms caused by pregnancy. This will help the professional get a better understanding of which points they need to focus on.
The sterilized needles are then carefully applied. The therapist will make sure not to insert more than a specific number to avoid undesirable side effects. This is why you need to consult with a qualified acupuncturist who specializes in treating pregnant women.
Other techniques can also be used as a complement to needles, such as moxibustion, a form of heat therapy where dried plant materials are burned near pre-determined points on the skin. The heat then stimulates the points, resulting in the same benefits as a treatment with needles.
In most cases, there are no contraindications for pregnant women undergoing acupuncture treatments. However, it is essential to consult an obstetrician-gynecologist to ensure the safety of the mother-to-be and child.
The acupuncturist works in collaboration with the patient’s physician. To help guide their treatment, the acupuncturist might ask their patient for specific information from their OBGYN.
As previously mentioned, it is extremely important to choose an acupuncturist who has been trained to work with pregnant women. When the therapist is a qualified professional, the treatments are safe and have no side effects.
It goes without saying that acupuncture does not replace consultations with a physician. However, it can be used as a natural complement to help women experience a more pleasant pregnancy and prepare for birth, without having to take additional prescription drugs.
The team at Clinique GOTM includes acupuncturists who, like Ms. Hao, specialize in treating pregnant women. Thanks to our mobile services, patients can benefit from acupuncture in the comfort of their own home and avoid the risks associated with travelling during the last few weeks of a pregnancy.
For safe treatments to help you and your unborn child, you can rely on the specialized acupuncturists at Clinique GOTM.
Ms. Shuang Hao was born in China where she earned a diploma in acupuncture in 2003. She has been practicing acupuncture in Canada since 2014 and is a member of the Ordre des acupuncteurs du Québec. She has undergone special training for treating pregnant women in order to help their physical and mental well-being during this special time of their life.