What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the alternatives and complementary medicine techniques used for physical and emotional problems.
Pregnancy makes your body experience physiological, psychological, and metabolic changes. But with acupuncture, you can banish most pregnant-related issues.
The use of acupuncture, as well as other alternative medicine techniques, has increased over the past few years. It is estimated that 4% to 13% of pregnant women in Europe use acupuncture, according to a 2013 review by Medical Acupuncture.
How Acupuncture Works
Thin, sterile needles are stuck at particular points in your body – acupoints. When acupoints are activated, they stimulate the release of brain cells chemicals and endorphins similar to when stimulating deep-seated nerves. It makes your body naturally self-heal by blocking pain signals hence easing other discomforts.
Risks of Acupuncture during Pregnancy
Acupuncture is beneficial for most women, but sometimes it could have some side effects. There is a list of them:
- Soreness and redness at the acupoints.
- Preterm labor when certain acupoints are stimulated before term.
Acupuncture can cause harm to your pregnancy if done by an uncertified health care provider or when safety protocols are not followed.
Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes. But have to be used with caution to avoid risk such as premature delivery.
As was aforementioned, when acupuncture is used correctly, it can help relieve most of the pregnancy woes. Besides, it can help you avoid unnecessary medications while pregnant as well as birth.
How Can Acupuncture Help During Pregnancy
The following are health issues that acupuncture can help relieve when pregnant:
- Early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture has been shown to alleviate nausea and vomiting. The relief from these early pregnancy symptoms is achieved by stimulating the pericardium 6 (p6) on the wrist. Data from a study conducted by Adelaide University, Australia showed that women who used traditional acupuncture experienced less nausea and retching than those who didn’t.
- Lower back pain. Acupuncture is effective in alleviating both lower back pain and pelvic pain women experience during the second and third trimester without adverse effect according to research by the Institute for the Health of Women and Children, Sweden. Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a 2015 Cochrane Review for treating low back/pelvic pain in pregnancy reports that acupuncture could relieve the pelvic and lower back pain than usual antenatal care. LR3 acupoint located on the foot is frequently used. Tender points found in the girdle and lower back area can be used as well.
- Depression. Pregnancy can make to experience depression before and after giving birth. The use of a targeted type of acupuncture can help. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, clinically depressed pregnant women who were not taking antidepressants were found less severe symptoms of depression after using acupuncture specific for depression or massage. About 6 in 10 women who received acupuncture-specific for depression responded to treatment.
- Headaches. Acupuncture can help relieve pregnancy-induced headaches and tension-type. Pregnant women who use acupuncture are likely to use less medication to alleviate headaches.
- Sleep disturbances. Pregnancy can make you turn in bed making you have inadequate sleep. Poor sleep while pregnant leaves you fatigued during the day and affect the quality of your life. Research published in Acupuncture in Medicine shows that acupuncture can help treat insomnia (lack of sleep) and help you sleep better.
Moxibustion. This is a form of acupuncture that can change the position of your baby back to normal when it present in a breech position. Stimulating BL67 (urinary bladder 67), encourage your baby to turn to the cephalic position (head down position).
Other health benefits of acupuncture include:
- Reduce fatigues
- Reduce heartburn
- Help with inducing labor
- Reduce pain during labor
- Reduce breast pain.
Acupressure During Pregnancy
Acupressure is an alternative to acupuncture. The pressure is applied through a firm massage instead of using needles. The sites used in acupuncture are the same as those used in acupressure.
In acupressure, parts of the body such as the fingers, hands, and feet are used to rub, drum, or vibrates against the skin over the sites of acupressure.
Just like the use of acupuncture, acupressure can help relieve lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches, depression, and induce labor.
One of the most popular acupressure technique is known as Shiatsu. It involves applying firm pressure to each point for 3 – 5 seconds.
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