Acupuncture for a Healthy Baby and Mother
by Regan J. Archibald, MS, LAc.,CSSAc
Acupuncture offers great
benefits to both the baby and the mother in the birth process.
In speaking to mothers concerned about safe therapies available
for the various discomforts of pregnancy, I often mention the
relaxing benefits of regular acupuncture treatments. Though it
is not common for a person to relate needles to relaxation and
well-being that is exactly what acupuncture can do!
Many expectant mothers are working long, hard hours in high stress
jobs, often allowing only a couple of days of preparation before
the baby is born. This puts a great deal of stress on the mother
and the developing child. The child is especially at risk because
he is developing physiological and energetic systems. This causes
him to become susceptible to 'maternal toxins' that are the by-product
of stress. These toxins often result in a childhood tendency for
skin rashes, frequent
colds and high fevers. Regular balancing treatments with acupuncture
can enhance the health of the mother and baby and often alleviates
many of the unwanted side-effects of pregnancy.
During pregnancy the mother and child need constant nourishment
and a proper "Qi" flow for the fetal development. When
the Qi becomes blocked in one area of the body, pain and sickness
can easily develop. One of the
safest therapies available for an expectant mother is acupuncture.
According to the World Health Organization, "acupuncture
has been found useful for relieving labor pain, nausea, vomiting,
and significantly reducing the duration of labor. There is also
strong evidence that acupuncture can help with a breached birth."
A pregnant woman is especially susceptible to blockages and stagnation
because of the drastic hormonal and structural changes that are
taking place in her body. One report shows that "50-80% of
pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy".
A recent study conducted by the Women's and Children's Hospital
has shown that acupuncture is extremely effective in treating
morning sickness in early pregnancy. Study coordinator, Dr. Caroline
Smith, took a sample of 593 women who were less than 14 weeks
pregnant and experiencing nausea and vomiting. Each expectant
mother received 20 minute acupuncture sessions weekly for four
weeks. Dr. Smith concluded, "as little as one acupuncture
treatment can significantly change the way these women feel".
After two weeks of treatment, nausea and dry retching had decreased
and overall well-being had improved.
Acupuncture can be an effective alternative to pitocin for labor
induction because it allows the uterus to contract in a rhythmic
manner rather than the tetanic contractions often caused by this
drug. The use of pitocin also increases the risk of nausea, vomiting
and postpartum hemorrhaging in the mother and puts the child in
harms way. I have used acupuncture to induce several women and
in nearly every case labor starts within 5-24 hours. In Chinese
medical theory, labor delay is often caused by Qi stagnation in
the uterus. Acupuncture is especially useful in promoting a smooth
flow of Qi. One of the benefits is that there are no harmful side-effects,
the mother will be more relaxed and the labor will progress in
its natural cycle.
Couples will have the most success by finding
a licensed acupuncturist in their first trimester. This allows
for the best possible care during the pregnancy for the mother
and developing child. Treatments are aimed at harmonizing internal
organ systems and relieving discomfort. Herbal
and nutritional advice will also be given to insure a healthy
pregnancy. These weekly or bi-weekly treatments are a good time
to take care of any current complications such as low back pain,
headaches or morning sickness.
Birth is an amazing and sacred event. One of the most powerful
experiences of my life was participating in the birth of my daughter
Zoe. We had wonderful support from family and friends and the
professional help of a midwife and doula. Acupuncture also played
a very vital role in the birth. This safe and effective modality
gives mothers an option that works in their journey towards a
positive, healthy birth experience.
Regan Archibald is a nationally certified acupuncturist
and is one of seven acupuncturists in the world certified in Seitai
Shinpo Acupuncture. He is President of the Seitai Shinpo Acupuncture
Foundation and specializes in back pain, sports injuries, infertility,
pregnancy care, labor induction and pediatrics. Regan practices
at 2091 East 1300 South, #105 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also
practices at Natural Vitality in Highland, Utah and can be reached
at (801) 582-2011 or at acuregan at hotmail dot com.