One of the most important milestones in any woman’s life is being able to conceive a child and bring him or her into this world. For many pregnant women, it is one of the most difficult challenges they will ever face because they will be confronted with a lot of physiologic changes as well as mental health issues related to the pregnancy. There will be changes in the way they look at themselves especially when their tummies already start sticking out from their bodies. And while many pregnant women relish these changes, some find it a little bit inconvenient. The different symptoms associated with pregnancy such as nausea and vomiting, sleeping difficulties, lower back pain, and even depression are sometimes enough for women to consider not getting pregnant again. As such it is important to be able to manage these symptoms of pregnancy to make the whole experience more pleasant.
Personally, I don’t recommend popping a pill to relieve a really bad headache or manage the morning sickness that you get. This is especially true in the first 3 months of pregnancy as the different organs of our babies are being formed inside our wombs. If we introduce chemicals of any form by this time, there is a very strong chance that these molecules will adversely affect the growth and development of the baby inside the womb. You may see your baby as being normal on ultrasound but he may already have a congenital defect lurking inside.
When I got pregnant I visited a Melbourne clinic that specialised in pregnancy acupuncture. This is basically acupuncture for pregnant women. As there is fertility acupuncture designed to help women improve their chances of getting pregnant, pregnancy acupuncture is more aimed at helping women retain their pregnancy, see them through delivery, and manage the different symptoms associated with the physiologic and psychological changes of pregnancy.
If you are already familiar with acupuncture then you already know that the idea is to stimulate certain points in the body, using very fine and highly sterile acupuncture needles, which correspond to the body organs that need to be helped. While Traditional Chinese Medicine explains acupuncture as the reestablishment of a balance in the flow of chi – the life energy within and around us – modern medicine has a more logical explanation to it. The needle point insertion stimulates the nerve endings which, in turn, send electrical signals to the brain. These electrical signals are interpreted and processed by the brain to elicit a particular response primarily the release of natural endorphins as well as other neurotransmitters.
It is this release of neural substances that is helping pregnant women get through the many symptoms associated with pregnancy. Headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, and other discomforts associated with pregnancy are effectively managed by the release of natural opioid-like substances in the brain. These natural brain chemicals block the transmission of pain impulses so that you will not have to feel the pain anymore. This works like getting morphine for very severe pain. The good news is that, you get the maximum analgesic benefit without the side effects and the danger of addiction.
Pregnancy acupuncture also works in the management of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, more popularly known as morning sickness. Nausea and vomiting is caused by an elevation in the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin especially in the first 2 months of pregnancy. This is needed to make sure that your pregnancy will reach full viability. Without the HCG, it will be quite impossible to progress with the pregnancy. There are medications used for morning sickness. However, since this occurs in the first trimester, it is generally considered a big no. Acupuncture performed on the wrist has been shown to mitigate the nausea and vomiting experienced by pregnant women.
One out of 4 pregnant women become depressed at some point. Luckily for me, I don’t have to worry about that. But for a quarter of the pregnant population, getting depressed during pregnancy can be devastating. This can also have a negative effect on their babies. Acupuncture can help release the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain to help improve overall mood. These neurotransmitters are known to provide a general sense of well-being so you will feel a lot better about yourself.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of acupuncture in pregnancy is its ability to improve tissue oxygenation and nutrition to the uterus and the placenta. The placenta is essentially the lifeline of the foetus and which is attached to the wall of the uterus. Oxygen and nutrients from the mother are delivered to the placenta which delivers them to the foetus via the umbilical vein. The foetus uses the oxygen and nutrients to grow and, in exchange, sends metabolic by-products to the placenta via 2 umbilical arteries for elimination. It is very important to have adequate blood supply to these organs so that the foetus will be able to grow and develop to maturity.
Acupuncture in pregnancy has a lot of good benefits. Not only is it safe, it is also effective in managing the different symptoms of pregnancy. More importantly, however, is that acupuncture helps make sure that our babies grow healthier inside our wombs during the entire nine months.
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