Updated: Feb 16
By Sarah Prater, L. Ac.
First off, congrats!!! Being pregnant can be one the most exciting times of a your life! It is a time filled with so many emotions, many of which you probably felt within the first few days of finding out about the little one growing inside of you! When you look ahead at the next 9 months, you know you’ll be visiting your doctor’s office frequently making sure everything is on track, and you and baby are healthy. You probably also know about the myriad of symptoms that are commonly experienced throughout pregnancy: morning sickness, heartburn, fatigue, swelling… the list goes on.
Some of these symptoms, while not necessarily a sign that anything is wrong, can be very bothersome. It’s not like you can just put your life down while you are pregnant! We, at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, use acupuncture treatment throughout pregnancy to treat and prevent these symptoms as well as help support the health of mom and baby.
Acupuncture works with the body to treat common pregnancy symptoms in a way that is safe for you and your developing baby. Additionally, acupuncture works without the use of medications, so you can feel better without worrying about exposing your little one to anything dangerous. As you know, the list of over-the-counter remedies that are off-limits during pregnancy is quite extensive!
In addition to managing symptoms, we also see patients for general wellness and stress reduction. There is evidence that chronic stress during pregnancy can lead to lower birth weight, earlier delivery, and may even affect brain development. Many women come in throughout their pregnancies to keep symptoms at bay and help control stress. We generally recommend the following treatment timeline shown below for general pregnancy wellness and to help treat and prevent common symptoms. Of course, adjustments to this protocol are made as symptoms come and go, and we see many women on an as-needed basis.
First Trimester: One treatment every 1-2 weeks.
For many, the first trimester is the hardest part of pregnancy. For this reason, we recommend regular, frequent treatments to keep mom feeling her best. Morning sickness, fatigue, and a general “sick” feeling that many women have are the most common symptoms we see during this time. The first trimester is also the time when the majority of miscarriages occur. Evidence suggests that acupuncture can be used to help treat some causes of miscarriage. We use points at each treatment that can help minimize risk and help support a healthy pregnancy.
Second Trimester: One treatment every 4-6 weeks.
Ahh, the second trimester. Most women will agree that this is their favorite part of pregnancy! Around week 10-13, morning sickness and fatigue begin to fade and you feel like yourself again. Your body will start making some big changes, your belly grows to accommodate your growing baby, and your center of gravity begins to shift. The treatments during this time are focused on helping to manage symptoms such as back pain, ligament pain, heartburn, etc. that come with your rapidly changing body.
Third Trimester: Treatments every 2-3 weeks from week 30-36
Treatments every 1 week from 36 weeks to delivery
You’ve finally entered the homestretch! While you’re busy preparing the nursery, your baby continues to grow and you’re probably feeling it! Heartburn, ligament pain, back pain, and feet and ankle swelling are some of the most common symptoms we see during this time. In addition to helping you feel more comfortable, we begin working to prepare your body for labor and delivery. We can help to encourage baby to turn head down if they are in a breech presentation. This is best done around weeks 32-34 as baby still has plenty of room to move, though we can still help many babies turn during the later weeks. At week 36 we begin a series of pre-birth acupuncture treatments. These treatments are specifically designed to help your body prepare for labor and delivery. They can reduce time spent in labor, the need for an epidural, and help reduce your chances of an emergency C-section.
Here’s a nice little info-graphic explaining a bit more about pre-birth acupuncture:
Fourth Trimester: as needed
They say that your first 12 weeks with your new baby should really be called the “fourth trimester.” Your baby is busy getting used to the world outside of your body and your body is busy returning to it;s pre-pregnancy state. You’re both getting used to breastfeeding (if you choose to breastfeed) and there can be some hiccups along the way. Acupuncture treatment can be helpful for many common fourth trimester symptoms such as post-natal depression, clogged milk ducts, night sweats, and stress reduction. Generally we see women on an as-needed basis during this time.
As you can see, prenatal acupuncture can be a wonderful way to encourage a healthy pregnancy! If you have any questions about your pregnancy and/or acupuncture please call or contact the clinic. We are more than happy to help! I hope you enjoy your pregnancy!
Sarah Prater, L.Ac.
http://tennesseereproductiveacupuncture.comAs the founder and acupuncturist at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, I work with families experiencing all types of fertility challenges along every step of their family building journey. We provide a safe, comfortable, and nurturing environment for our patients and utilize evidence-based acupuncture treatments to support fertility, conception, and pregnancy.