The Benefits of Eastern Medicine Throughout Pregnancy


Healthy Living Blog

by Dr. Rachelle Tetreault DAOM, L,Ac


There is an ample amount of research confirming the many benefits of acupuncture and Eastern Medicine. Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicinal practices yet is still used today. It is utilized worldwide throughout many nations and known as both a trusted and effective method of treatment. It can also help defend the body against pathogens (viruses and bacteria) by regulating the immune system and improving what is considered wei qi. The more common known ailments treated are chronic pain, insomnia, digestive issues, arthritis, migraines, and nausea and vomiting. In Asian countries, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in benefitting pregnancy outcomes overall. Harvard Medical School Professor, Dr. Aikawa, has notably said that, “Ancient philosophers already knew that health is life in balance, but underlying mechanisms are complex. More than a millennium later, we are still attempting to answer the same questions.” Eastern medicine today utilizes reasonable modern scientific research methods to prove the effectiveness of acupuncture and its many other modalities. Acupuncture is absolutely both a safe and effective treatment for benefiting the mother and fetus throughout pregnancy. There are many reasons to utilize Eastern Medicine during pregnancy. Some of the more common ailments treated during pregnancy are morning sickness, heart burn or indigestion, constipation, varicose veins and hemorrhoids, muscle cramps, edema, backache, poor memory and yeast infections. Following pregnancy, post-partum depression and anemia are also common issues treated with Eastern Medicine.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, acupuncture is often used for treating heartburn, nausea, and even fatigue. Studies have shown that 20% of pregnant women have some form of vaginal bleeding the first twelve weeks of pregnancy which can be a sign of a threatened miscarriage. Acupuncture treatments have been shown to help calm the fetus and help stop vaginal bleeding. As pregnancy progresses, it can be used to help eliminate both muscle aches and pains, as well as edema. During the second trimester, acupuncture is often used to improve circulation and blood flow. This also will help relieve pain and any swelling.

By the third trimester, acupuncture starts helping the body prepare for labor. It is used to help strengthen uterine contractions and can help increase the likeliness of a natural vaginal delivery. Other benefits at this time is that it allows the cervix to stretch naturally to help prepare the body naturally to enhance the ease of childbirth. Many OB Gyn and midwives recommend acupuncturists to help ripen the cervix to help shorten labor time and reduce the risk of medical interventions. One of the many ways acupuncture works is by helping the uterine ligaments to relax and aiding in better blood circulation to the pelvis. This ultimately allows easier descension for the baby to position correctly into the birth canal. When needed, this assists with the cervix to soften and dilate while enhancing the uterine muscles to contract. Eastern Medicine modalities are often used to facilitate the best positioning for the baby in later pregnancy.

Acupuncture is typically pain free and does not hurt. In fact, it can be very relaxing and may help promote sleep. Many clients often fall asleep during the treatment. Acupuncture helps to maintain mind and body energy, calm the nervous system ensuring both the mind and body to fully relax. More patients are relying on Eastern Medicine to help with a variety of symptoms.

Sometimes, added nutritional support for pregnant or nursing mothers is much needed. Food therapy and counseling is often given to ensure proper nutritional support for prenatal care and throughout pregnancy. Some of the basic nutrients needed are a source of easily assimilated calcium. Both calcium and minerals are needed for the fetus to build strong bones and teeth. A prenatal multi-vitamin is always a must and preferably from a whole food concentrate. Folic acid B-12 should be taken throughout the whole pregnancy. Other essential nutrients are iron, essential amino acids, a whole protein complex and trace minerals.

The best food therapy throughout pregnancy focuses of kidney, liver, yin, yang, qi “energy”, and blood. A pregnant woman should try to get 60-75 grams of protein daily. This can be achieved by foods such as beans, lentils, soy, quinoa, cheese, eggs, yogurt, sardines, lamb, buffalo, cooked seafood, and chicken. Protein and water helps make up the majority of our bones, skin, blood, muscles, hair, nails, organs, and connective tissue. Goji berries are used a lot in food therapy for many purposes. It is full of antioxidants and helps nourish the liver blood. Some of the best foods to nourish the body overall consist of these goji berries plus sweet potatoes (also good for milk production for nursing mothers), walnuts, eggs, spinach, garlic, salmon (for energy and also helps with reducing post-partum bleeding-but avoid raw seafood), carrots (nourish blood and helps with digestion), lamb, chicken (also used for post-partum weakness).

In conclusion, Eastern medicine has been shown to reduce risk of miscarriages, treat morning sickness, alleviate aches and pains, improve sleep, and helps increase likelihood of a natural birth outcome. Along with acupuncture, clinical nutrition, supplement recommendation, herbal formulas, and lifestyle modifications are used to ensure a healthy pregnancy and outcome for mother and baby. Call today for your appointment!