Pregnancy is, not surprisingly, many things to many people: It can be exciting, magical, scary and even terrifying. It creates an emotional and physical roller coaster.
Ultimately, each pregnancy is unique: some easy, others imbued with physical discomfort.
There are many options for how you experience your pre-, peri- and postnatal care. Complementary-medicine practitioners such as acupuncturists, midwives, massage therapists and chiropractors can help make any discomfort or complications that arise a bit more bearable. You may even learn a great deal about your own body in the process.
Chinese medicine has long been deeply invested in women’s health, recognizing that the health of the population and culture depends significantly on it. Volumes of information exist, covering topics on women’s cycles, fertility, infertility, pregnancy and postpartum care.
In having a healthy pregnancy, it is important to have a healthy menstrual cycle leading up to conception. If cycles are erratic, painful, scanty or overly heavy, that is a sign some aspects of the body are not in optimal balance.
Certain symptoms that occur during a menstrual cycle considered normal by Western standards can, in Chinese medicine, be a red flag for increased risk of morning sickness, loss of appetite or other issues during pregnancy.
If you are planning to become pregnant and are struggling, there are a number of factors to consider before trying more invasive procedures. Chinese medicine has, roughly, six different primary patterns of infertility.
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are very important treatments for each pattern of infertility.
During pregnancy, different acupuncture meridians develop each month in the child. In China (and now the West), mothers will often get regular acupuncture each month to, theoretically, aid in the development of these acupuncture meridians.
There is even an acupuncture point called the “beautiful baby” point that is said to make the child beautiful, intelligent and ready for success.
Aside from attempting to ensure a beautiful baby, acupuncture is very useful during pregnancy to mitigate morning sickness and deal with unpleasant symptoms such as hemorrhoids and back and joint pain as the baby grows.
If you have had frequent miscarriages or are at a high risk for miscarriage, there are a number of protocols and herbal formulas to “hold the baby in.”
There is also a moxibustion technique that has been found to be 75 percent effective in stimulating a baby to move out of a breech presentation, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Postpartum care incorporates Chinese medical nutrition to recover the resources spent during pregnancy. It also sets the tone to generate optimal milk production, and to help your tendons, ligaments and cartilage to firm up properly after relaxing for the birthing process.