The Path to Parenthood, Part 2: Pregnancy

belly size pregnancy

Welcome to the 2nd installment of our Path to Parenthood series!

by Kandace Cahill, DAOM, L.Ac., FABORM

This entry covers PREGNANCY, the good, the bad, the not-so-pretty. For many women, particularly those who visit our clinic, the long-awaited positive pregnancy test heralds a time of major achievement, one that often comes after a long and arduous path of ART. It is the quintessential, highly coveted, brass ring. However, it is rarely accompanied by the magical “Ahhhhh” feeling of accomplished relaxation that women expect to have at the moment the little pee strip turns +. On the contrary…this is a time of heightened anxiety, and sometimes fear, that after all the work—the ovulation tests, the morning temperatures, the oh-so-romantic “timed intercourse” (or even more romantic, the hot date with the fertility clinic), avoiding alcohol, avoiding caffeine, avoiding hot baths, and chocolate, and just about everything else that brings pleasure—that after all of this, it might not take.

And when is the magical time when you can let your breath out and trust that all is well?

And isn’t pregnancy a time when so many things can go wrong, too?

Where IS the magic of pregnancy, anyway? 

Well, believe it or not, pregnancy is like a box of chocolates (but don’t eat it—this is metaphorical!) It’s the whole bag of goodies, from decadent & thrilling to run-of-the-mill “meh” chocolate. And it is what you make of it, too. For some women, it’s near-constant nausea. For others, it’s mind-numbing fatigue. The list goes on and on. And that’s just the first trimester.

What no one tells us is that this is the time when we are truly indoctrinated into motherhood. Our bodies are not our own, and they won’t be again for a really long time. And we are often held at the mercy of a precipitous worry for our child that begins while they are in utero. And this worry doesn’t go away. Ever.

Yes, it’s beautiful and magical and wonderful and the whole bit. Every single second. And some of it sucks, too. And Chinese medicine can help with nearly all of it.

To me, given my knowledge of how Chinese medicine works, this is as obvious a principle as global warming. But, surprisingly, most women think that once the stick turns pink, Chinese medicine has done its job—albeit beautifully—and can now take the back burner and let pregnancy commence. And while this is sometimes true, and I don’t want to paint a doom-and-gloom scenario about pregnancy AT ALL, there are certainly reasons why Chinese medicine should be as important as your regularly-scheduled OB or midwife visits.

Reasons to See Your Acupuncturist

Here’s why we like to see women in pregnancy:

  • Just as we work to improve uterine blood flow BEFORE conception, keeping that blood flow going throughout the first trimester is ABSOLUTELY KEY in preventing things like preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR—i.e. small babies), and gestational diabetes. It also helps to make sure that your baby gets all of the proper circulations it needs for good body & brain development.
  • We can help prevent miscarriage (again, this is about good blood flow, as well as other key factors that dictate healthy uterine environments), especially when there is a history of previous miscarriage.
  • We can reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy:
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Food aversions
    • Frequent urination
    • Fatigue
    • Constipation
    • Heartburn
    • Dizziness
    • Edema
    • Pelvic pain
    • Back pain
    • Sciatica
    • Headaches
    • Insomnia
    • Anxiety/Depression
  • We can even help with certain high-risk situations:
    • Placenta previa (best treated at the earliest detection)
    • Incompetent cervix (also best treated at the earliest detection)
    • High blood pressure (we can help to reduce the likelihood of this turning into a full preelampsia situation, though preelampsia is best treated with preventive care in early gestation)
    • High blood sugar (we can help prevent the onset or worsening of gestational diabetes, though this is best addressed with preventive care in early gestation, as well as proper nutrition)
  • We can help turn a breech baby (we do this at around 34-36 weeks and often need to see women a few times in a row)
  • We can help facilitate labor! (we do this close to the due date; again, numerous visits are often needed)
  • We can help reduce pain in delivery (if you are having a home birth, we can help you. Otherwise, you will need to contact an acupuncturist with local hospital or birth center privileges).

Timing Your Visits 

So, when do we like to see you during pregnancy? We like to assume that your body will, in fact, rock this pregnancy like a superstar and that you will need little intervention from us. But even so, there are times when treatment is most important. For an uncomplicated pregnancy, we recommend the following treatment frequency:

Weeks 8-16
  • Frequency: weekly
  • Purpose: optimize uterine blood flow during the time of peak placenta development. This benefits not only you but also your baby, as good flow dictates proper development throughout the entire gestation.
Weeks 17-28
  • Frequency: monthly
  • Purpose: health maintenance for you and your baby. This is also a great time to address other issues that may arise (such as sciatic pain or insomnia)
Weeks 29-36
  • Frequency: bi-monthly (one treatment every 2 weeks)
  • Purpose: decrease physical discomfort, address any other issues that begin to arise
Weeks 36-40
  • Frequency: weekly
  • Purpose: prepare for delivery! This means to turn the baby, if breech (we like to begin this as early as week 34), to ripen the cervix (starting in week 35), promoting uterine contractions (as early as week 38, depending on your particular circumstances). As your due date approaches, we may like to see you more than once a week to help facilitate the labor process, especially if this is your first delivery.

And, so, there you have it! While Chinese medicine can’t necessarily make your pregnancy free of all worry and anxiety, we can surely help to make it healthy—which goes a long way in providing peace of mind. Now if only we could do the same for when your kids reach puberty…(actually, we can, but that’s the topic of another article!)

If you know someone who is pregnant and finds this article of interest, please forward it to them. And if you or someone you know is interested in learning more, contact us to schedule an appointment or receive a free 15-minute consultation!