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Acupuncture & Pregnancy

A friend recently reminded me that every pregnancy, child, and mothering experience is like a snowflake; no two are the same so please keep that in mind as I share my story. I am certainly not prescribing what is best for you so please consult with your physician before taking any supplements or following my recommendations. (I am not a doctor.)

Throughout my pregnancy I received acupuncture treatments every 2-3 weeks for various reasons but overall my goal was to stay relaxed and keep me and baby healthy. As I reached the third trimester, I found that it was too uncomfortable to lay on the table while getting my treatments so I usually get them in a chair where I can sit reclined. This way I can put my feet up and relax but not have the pressure on my spine and lower back.

Chinese medicine actually has a few specific points that are great for pregnancy and one is kidney 9 in the lower leg. They also use a special gold plated needle just for this point! Pretty neat! 

Here is a little bit about this point:

Happy Baby Point
Location: Above the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone), right below the calf muscle.
Function: Calms the mind, builds or tonifies blood.
Indication: Good for hypertension, fear, anxiety, nightmares, and mental disorders.

After an acupuncture treatment during pregnancy I always have felt incredibly relaxed, calm, and centered. Usually I would fall asleep during the treatment, which didn’t always happen when I was not pregnant. It helped to reduce any little aches or annoyances that have come up like:
  • Plantar fasciitis – I had a few months of that pain which was helped greatly with treatments
  • Sciatica and tailbone pain
  • Mood swings – acupuncture helped keep me balanced (which my husband is very thankful for!)
  • Sleep – I sleep more soundly and wake less at night the days after getting a treatment
  • Stress – acupuncture has always made a huge difference in my stress level but even more so while pregnant

I was lucky to not have any nausea during my pregnancy but I know we have had many patients who find relief from morning sickness with acupuncture. So this is another great reason to get a treatment during your pregnancy.

Additional Supplements 

Beyond acupuncture I had a few other items that really made a huge difference for me that I want to share.

Natural Calm Magnesium
Magnesium is wonderful whether you are pregnant or not but especially helpful with a few side effects of pregnancy. I take it every day before bed to relax my muscles and make it easier to sleep. This is very helpful as it gets uncomfortable to lay down and joints get sore. Magnesium is also important to keep your bowels regular. So if you have problems with constipation, a spoonful a day will make a huge difference. Also towards the end of pregnancy when my braxton hicks have become much stronger, the magnesium helps to relax those muscles so the practice contractions are not so intense and I can go about my day.

Fish Oil Prenatal DHA
Fish oil is great for brain health, joint health, mood, eye and nervous system function. This is the brand I have been taking during my pregnancy and during the third trimester I doubled my dose to help with joint pain and give an extra boost for baby’s developing brain. There are also studies that have shown that taking prenatal DHA helps prevent anxiety and depression as well as ADHD in kids throughout their childhood. Just be sure to stay under 2 grams per day to avoid possible bleeding complications during labor.

Plant-based Prenatal Multivitamin
I really liked this multivitamin from Innate Response Formulas. They have two formulas, one for the first and second trimester and one for the third trimester and postpartum period. They are made from whole foods and were very gentle on my stomach. It was great to know I was getting all the vitamins I needed as well as some helpful herbs and they are all from whole foods.

Probiotic capsules
I also used the Innate Response Formulas brand for my probiotics and had no side effects. Probiotics are important to build not only your own but also the baby’s immune system. Did you know your immune system exists in your gut? It does! Taking a daily probiotic will build up the needed healthy bacteria to ward off infections and sickness. My brand new baby’s immune health was a super important factor to consider while pregnant so I made sure to take probiotics as well as eat lots of fermented foods with live cultures. Plus they have the added benefit of bowel regularity too.

As a first time mom I was very aware that my life was about to change drastically and I would have less time for myself pretty soon, so I made sure to take time during my pregnancy to care for myself. I made a goal to try to do at least one special thing per week that was just for me. Some ideas: prenatal massage, pedicure, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, hair cut(I avoided color because of the chemicals though), lunch with a friend, coloring books, bath with lavender oils and candles, working in the garden. It’s very important to stay relaxed during pregnancy and these are fun things to do to enjoy this time.

Yoga Ball
One of the best things I read about early in pregnancy was to get off the couch! Sitting on the yoga ball(or birthing ball) is so wonderful for sore muscles in my hips and pelvic area, plus it helps tone the muscles too. Here is a great blog about how the yoga ball can help during pregnancy.

At about 7 months my husband and did a 5 week hypnobirthing class. Hypnobirthing focuses on deep breathing, visualization, hypnosis, and relaxation to prevent tension. The theory is that fear creates tension which creates pain which then creates more fear and tension, and then the cycle repeats. So with hypnobirthing you skip that whole pattern and have a calm, peaceful birth while in self-hypnosis the entire time.
After educating myself by reading a few books including The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Romm and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and watching documentaries like The Business of Being Born I decided that having a home birth with a midwife was what I wanted.  My midwife was my partner in my pregnancy helping guide me but not forcing me into any decisions. Plus it’s so nice to have hour long appointments that are relaxed where we can talk about any concerns and never feel rushed. She really values my opinions and feelings as a person and a mother. I strongly encourage more women to consider using a midwife instead of an OB, if you have a healthy no-risk pregnancy. You can read more about why I chose a home birth here

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