Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Support for Fertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth
Spring is a time of rebirth, sudden growth, and rapid expansion; an awakening of the life process. With that in mind, we thought this month might be a good time to talk about Fertility and Pregnancy.
So you want to have a baby?
Couples planning to have a baby typically put a lot of thought into preparing for parenthood. There’s putting together the nursery, planning for a college fund, and picking names - all focused on preparing for the arrival of the baby. These things are definitely important, but perhaps even more important is to prepare for the pregnancy itself. The health of the parents is arguably the most important factor in determining the health of the baby.
It’s important to prepare your body well before (at least 4-6 months) you intend to become pregnant so that it is strong, ready to conceive and carry the child through to a healthy birth. Chinese Medicine says we need to “tend the garden”, preparing the soil for a healthy baby. We look at diet and lifestyle not only for the mother but for the father as well. It takes a lot to make healthy baby-producing sperm, and we will want to make sure that the father’s “garden” is properly tended too. Here's a great recipe that will help you tend the garden...
It takes the body about 120 days to mature the eggs that will come to ovulate and the health and quality of an egg can be greatly affected during that time. For men, it takes about 70-90 days for a man’s sperm to mature. (reference: “Making Babies: A 3 Month Proven Program for Maximum Fertility,” Jill Blakeway, LAc and Sami David, MD). If a woman goes into pregnancy depleted from stress, health issues or other imbalances, it may take some time to restore balance so that she can sustain a pregnancy for 9 months. We stress that couples should take the time to address any imbalances before they try to become pregnant.
Eating a well balanced diet high in dark leafy greens and good quality protein can help to ensure that your body is making strong healthy blood, ideal for creating and sustaining a healthy pregnancy. Equally important is finding ways to reduce stress. Sleep, meditation and moderate exercise are great ways to do this. Regular sleep patterns that maintain the normal circadian rhythms also support healthy menstrual cycles. Regular acupuncture treatments and, if necessary, herbal therapy can also help balance hormones, reduce stress and strengthen the body to prepare it for pregnancy.
We look at fertility treatment as more than just helping a couple become pregnant. We view pregnancy as a natural process that occurs when there is a healthy mother and father, and we want to help the parents have a healthy child. That is, after all, what the mother and father really want. Right?
We see many patients that have issues becoming pregnant, and there can be a number of reasons for this. Many times this is due to menstrual issues (irregular periods), but it can also be caused by stress, illness, ovarian cysts, or other seemingly unrelated factors, Since the uterus is the environment where the baby will live, we look at the menstrual cycle to indicate where there may be an imbalance creating the inability to conceive and hold a pregnancy. Our goal is to create a nourishing and sustaining environment for the fetus to thrive.
Acupuncture and herbal therapies can improve ovarian and follicular function and increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus creating a strong environment for the egg to be nourished and carried to term. As mentioned above, they can also help reduce stress and balance hormones, both of which can be key factors in fertility issues with both women and men. Chinese medicine can stimulate the endocrine system to produce hormones that stimulate the reproductive system, including sperm production in men. Moxabustion can warm the uterus so that it is the right temperature to allow implantation.
Difficulty getting pregnant can be stressful both emotionally and financially. Our goal is to help reduce this stress and provide a safe, effective treatment with no drugs or side effects. If you have had many failed attempts at pregnancy and are using IVF or other western medical treatment for infertility, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can provide additional support.
During pregnancy, Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are credited by many with helping with morning sickness, nausea, heartburn, aches and pains (low back pain, for example), anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia, among many others, If one has a history of miscarriage, Chinese medicine can help ensure that the mom remains strong and healthy and the pregnancy is supported during the first trimester when most miscarriages occur.
As pregnancy reaches week 36-37, Chinese medicine can be used to prepare mom and baby for a smooth labor and delivery. Many women seek acupuncture for labor induction and while we believe that the baby will come when it’s ready, we can help ripen the cervix and shorten labor duration by increasing blood flow to the uterus. We can also help reduce any anxiety about the birthing process. Moxibustion therapy is well known as a treatment used to turn a baby from breech position to the head down position that is favorable for easy delivery thereby precluding the need for a C-section delivery. Moxa causes increased fetal movement encouraging the baby to move into a better position.
Our goal here is to ensure mom is strong, calm and is ready to deliver a healthy baby without complications.
After baby has arrived, after-care for new moms is really important. Fatigue and depression are common after delivery. Acupuncture and herbal therapy are great for helping moms recover and regain their strength while mom recovers from what is quite possibly the most taxing even of her life. Acupuncture and herbal therapy are great for helping moms recover and regain their strength and build up critical resources lost during the birth process. These resources become the building blocks of breast milk which are then available to nourish the child.
Sadly, nearly 10-15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the number increasing to 50-75% with chemically assisted pregnancies. This can be a very emotional experience. Many doctors will prescribe a D&C after miscarriage. Acupuncture and herbs can help a patient pass the baby naturally without a D&C and can calm depression associated with this loss. If the patient does choose a D&C and has extended bleeding, acupuncture, moxa and herbs can help stop or lessen the bleeding without the use of pharmaceuticals.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can provide support for couples during all phases of pregnancy. By combining it with a balanced diet, moderate regular exercise, and stress reduction, the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby are greatly improved. Questions?
Posted in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Health Conditions