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Acupuncture & Pregnancy

I’ve had acupuncture before either through microcurrent stimulation on various points or actual needling and moxibustion. It’s never been painful (well, ok, the moxibustion can get pretty hot). But, usually it’s pretty relaxing. I wanted to describe what it’s been like to get acupuncture treatment at the end of pregnancy for labor induction. I also need to add that this treatment USUALLY induces labor after 1 treatment, sometimes more than 1 if you’re a first time mom. I’ve had 8 or 9 treatments to date, and baby’s still in the womb . . . but again, I don’t necessarily seem to be adhering to anything textbook with the end of pregnancy.

First thing, I filled out new patient paperwork which consisted of a fairly thorough history form inquiring about symptoms, length of duration, diet, and function of general organ systems throughout the body.

All in all, my reason for my initial visit was a wellness check to see if everything was balanced so that I would deliver on time and be healthy. I also mentioned my perpetual pregnancy-related heartburn, and I inquired about pain-control points for massage during labor.

Based on the information provided, the practitioner, Maya, asked me a few questions for clarification, then she had me relax in a reclining chair in the waiting area. She has a few private rooms in the clinic for patients to lie supine (face-up), but many patients who are more comfortable sitting receive their treatment in an open area in a group setting.

She uses Korean stainless steel needles and placed them at various “forbidden points” which are usually avoided during pregnancy since they can cause miscarriage. But, almost anything that can cause miscarriage early in pregnancy is free game at the end when it’s time for baby to come out! I don’t know the names of the points, but I can describe where needles were placed:

  1. web between my 1st and 2nd toes bilaterally
  2. 3 finger tips proximal or superior from the top of the medial malleolus (inside ankles) bilaterally
  3. thumb web bilaterally
  4. shoulders about 1.5″ superior from the clavicle and mid-way between each clavicle bilaterally

For acid reflux, she placed needles just below the lateral epicondyle of the knees and on the medial arm approximately 2″ below the crease of the wrist.

Since I’ve had so many treatments, things have varied from day to day. She’s added electrical stimulation on crossed points from the left to the right and vice-versa and the frequency has varied daily. She’s needled points over the frontal sinuses for a sinus pressure headache that literally ceased after 5-10 minutes. Other points on the foot medial and superior to the heel have been stimulated for “kidney nourishment” as well as points in the ears to help with stress.

Once the needles are inserted, she twirls them or allows electric stimulation to constantly provide the stimulation. I remain in the recliner / ottoman for 45 minutes and “simmer”. She often checks on me and palpates various pulses, sometimes it’s actual heart rate pulses, and sometimes it’s meridian pulses.

Heartburn has essentially been obsolete since I started acupuncture treatment. I wish I knew about such treatment 9 months ago! I get an occasional flare up when I eat something taboo to me like onions or garlic, and apparently, my body is super sensitive to those foods right now. No more sinus headaches (that was only for a day, but it made me feel cloudy and nauseous). I’ve had a few days where I was super stressed out (which is what led me to isolating myself from friends and family phone calls since all of their well-intentioned advice only served to make me more of a nervous wreck). But, since getting some relaxation points treated, I’ve been a lot more calm and relaxed, and some things aren’t such a big deal anymore. Since starting treatment for labor induction, I’ve continued to dilate and have contractions. Even though none of it has yet led to active labor, I only have ~3 cm left to dilate before I push out a baby . . . can’t say I’ve met any other women who’ve been in that situation.

Post treatment, she applies small magnets. They’re either super small like the tip of a ball point pen or slightly larger and affixed to bandage type material. She places them on points for constant stimulation such as the acid reflux control points on my forearms. These typically stay on for days.

So, all in all, I feel like it’s been beneficial thus far. This is definitely a non-invasive treatment with lots of health benefits. It’s a great complement to exercise, nutrition, and chiropractic care. One of my friends came along to observe a couple of my treatments. Afterward, she remarked that she really wanted to get treated!

Steve received his first treatment yesterday. I think he got the royal treatment: dimly lit private room lying on pillows on a massage table; numerous needles in his feet, hands, and ears; soft, soothing music playing; and a heat lamp directly over his feet. I think he had a good long nap while he was in there!

Finding a qualified acupuncturist

I know of chiropractors and medical doctors who also practice acupuncture.  Although they may be certified, knowledgeable, and highly trained, they haven’t received nearly the extent of training as a certified acupuncturist who solely practices that art.  I recommend locating an acupuncturist who has an active state license and is certified through the National Certificaiton Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  Their site includes a search directory for practicioners.  But, as always with finding a great doctor, a word of mouth referral from a friend or colleague is invaluable in finding someone who is truly great at what (s)he does.

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