Nov 10, 2022 • 3 min read

Benefits of Acupuncture During Pregnancy and Postpartum

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Acupuncture is a safe, noninvasive, and effective modality with many benefits during pregnancy and postpartum. It can help with the normal body changes and stress associated with pregnancy and birth. Acupuncture can also be a safe alternative to medication for a wide range of common symptoms that arise during pregnancy and postpartum

Kristina Chew Di Sanza is an NYC based acupuncturist committed to helping people reach their highest potential and achieve harmonious balance in mind-body-spirit. A graduate of Pacific College of Health and Science, Kristina believes in empowering others and supporting them on their individual health journey. While Kristina treats a wide variety of pathologies, she has a particular interest in women’s health, anxiety and depression, gastrointestinal disorders, and facial rejuvenation.

Below, Kristina shares a list of common issues pregnancy that acupuncture can help with:

Acupuncture Benefits for Pregnancy + Mental Health

Regulate emotions: An influx of hormones can trigger mood swings, depression, anxiety, and mental distress during pregnancy. Acupuncture is great at balancing and recalibrating hormones, supporting the nervous system, and reducing overall stress.

Acupuncture Benefits for Pregnancy + Physical Health

Low back pain & sciatica: Acupuncture can ease body aches and muscle spasms. This includes the “baby back” low back pain that’s caused by ligaments in your pelvis and low back that become more soft and flexible during pregnancy to prepare for labor. As well as, the “nursing hunch” which can bring neck and mid-back pain from poor posture while breastfeeding. With sciatica, there is a radiating pain that runs down the back and side of the thigh and leg. It most often goes all the way to the toes. There can also be a numbness/burning sensation. This tends to happen because as the baby grows, the head presses against the sciatic nerve which runs underneath the uterus.

Morning sickness: In traditional Chinese medicine, morning sickness can usually be divided into 2 types. One, your body may need more of a nourishing and tonifying treatment (due to a deficiency). Two, your body may need more of a de-stress and unblocking treatment (due to excess). It all depends on your constitution and the imbalance you present with.

Fatigue: During pregnancy, the growing fetus places a constant demand on the mother. Acupuncture and moxibustion is a gentle and effective way to replenish vital energy stores, promote relaxation, improve sleep, and stimulate digestion to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Acupuncture points used for morning sickness are also used to help increase energy.

Turning a breech baby: Ideally, acupuncture and moxibustion are done around 33 weeks. Mom may be sent home with instructions on how to use a moxa stick (moxibustion which is a form of therapy using an herb called mugwort) to warm an acupuncture point located on the lateral corner of the pinky toe nail.

Acupuncture for Postpartum + Physical Health

Insufficient lactation (low milk supply): After a woman gives birth, she may lose a lot of blood and energy. If labor is long and complicated, there may be challenges supplying enough milk due to a deficiency of fluids. Sometimes, there is enough milk but it may not flow properly because there is emotional stress causing stagnation which could present as mastitis (inflammation or an infection of one or both breasts). Acupuncture helps break up stagnation and/or tonify any deficiencies to encourage milk to flow freely.

Cervical ripening & labor preparation: Acupuncture can gently encourage the cervix to ripen naturally. These treatments usually begin around week 36-37 to help ease the body into the birthing process. Acupuncture can help loosen the fascia around the midsection, hips, and pelvis and soften the cervix to avoid a medical or mechanical induction which can be quite uncomfortable.

Inducing labor: There are specific acupuncture points that help promote labor and also stimulate the production of oxytocin, which is one of the major cascading hormones that play a role in the onset of labor. Oxytocin can soothe anxiety and lessens labor pains.

Post surgical wound recovery/vaginal tears: Acupuncture can help reduce scar appearance by breaking up scar tissue and increasing blood flow to the area. This also helps speed up recovery after a C-section. Moxibustion can help heal vaginal tearing after labor, the new mom can take home a moxa stick with instructions on how to continue treatment at home.

Acupuncture for Postpartum + Mental Health

Postpartum depression: Someone who is struggling with ongoing depression or anxiety for over 2 weeks may be suffering from postpartum depression. Clinical manifestations of postpartum depression include low energy, extreme sadness, irritability, and suicidal tendencies. These symptoms last longer and are more intense than the “baby blues”. They may potentially interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth. They may begin earlier, during pregnancy, or later for up to 12 months after birth. Acupuncture can help in many ways: gently balance hormones, reduce anxiety and stress, increase mental clarity, and improve quality of sleep.