You may have heard that alternative medicine can be helpful for those who are trying to get pregnant, but did you know that some types of alternative medicine can be surprisingly beneficial during pregnancy, too? Prenatal massage and acupuncture during pregnancy can help address many pregnancy-related discomforts, including fatigue, aches and pains, and even nausea. Being able to reduce these symptoms gently and safely without the use of drugs is crucial, especially when you are growing a new life inside you. Let’s talk about why you might want to try these alternative medicine practices during your pregnancy.
If you were a fan of massage before you got pregnant, there’s no need to stop now. Just like regular massage, prenatal massage improves your circulation, reduces fatigue, and helps to loosen the joints and muscles. The difference is that prenatal massage is performed by a specially trained massage therapist who has been taught how to handle the unique needs of expectant mothers during every stage of their pregnancy.
According to fertility expert Dr. Jill Blakeway, founder of a leading center in prenatal massage in New York City, a certified prenatal massage specialist has learned specialized techniques to help address the most common pregnancy discomforts in a safe, risk-free way. These ailments range from elimination and digestive issues to severe pelvic pain. Prenatal massage provides benefits to your unborn baby as well. Studies show that regular prenatal massage during pregnancy leads to a calmer, more relaxed mother-to-be and healthier development for the baby.
A study published in The Journal of Perinatal Education found that prenatal massage can also support a woman’s desire to have a natural childbirth. The study found that women who received regular prenatal massage during pregnancy had shorter delivery times, needed fewer pain medications, were half as likely to require cesarean sections and were 60% less likely to request an epidural during delivery.
Additional benefits of prenatal massage include:
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Reduced fatigue and mental strain
- Reduced blood pressure and edema, and relief of varicose veins
- Fewer muscle cramps and spasms
- Fewer aches and pains, especially pain in the joints, neck, and back
- Improved circulation of the blood and lymphatic systems
Your prenatal massage therapist will alter your treatment as your pregnancy progresses. During the first trimester, treatments will focus on addressing any pre-existing conditions you may have, such as sciatica or back, neck, pelvic, and shoulder pain. Massage during this trimester will also help with any emotional anxiety you are experiencing.
During the second trimester, your treatments will be more focused on supporting your rapidly growing uterus. There are 13 separate ligaments that support your uterus and keeping them toned can prevent future problems with back and pelvic pain, preterm delivery, and painful back labor. You may even be taught some self-care techniques to use at home.
When you reach the third trimester, it’s time to help your body prepare for labor. Weight gain and hormonal changes at this time make your ligaments even more susceptible to injury. Added uterine pressure can cause swelling accompanied by digestive and elimination issues. Regular prenatal massage helps alleviate these symptoms while relaxing your body to prepare you for labor and delivery.
Acupuncture During Pregnancy
The benefits of acupuncture for fertility issues in both men and women have become more recognized in recent years. Acupuncture can also be relaxing and beneficial once you get pregnant, too. Some women choose to have acupuncture treatments regularly throughout their pregnancy, while others only see their acupuncturist as needed to address specific issues. Either way, acupuncture during pregnancy offers a safe and gentle option for addressing common pregnancy issues.
Acupuncture during the first trimester can help to alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, morning sickness, fatigue, headaches, and constipation. In fact, clinical trials have shown acupuncture to be especially useful for treating nausea and vomiting, with a significant reduction in symptoms in as little as two days. If you suffer from migraines or severe headaches, acupuncture can offer considerable relief.
During the second trimester, uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, hemorrhoids, and back pain become an issue. Some women also experience edema and high blood pressure at this stage. An acupuncturist can coordinate a treatment plan with your obstetrician to help you combat these symptoms.
Because acupuncture offers such a gentle and safe way to relieve pain, it is especially useful during the third trimester. As your ligaments begin to soften in preparation for labor and your bump grows rapidly causing difficulties with balance, you are more likely to have back problems. Acupuncture is one of the few ways to relieve back pain without the use of dangerous pharmaceuticals.
Acupuncture treatments can also help the body prepare for labor by relaxing the pelvic muscles and encouraging the cervix to dilate. Patients who receive acupuncture during the last month of pregnancy sometimes experience shorter and more comfortable labors.
Moxibustion for Breech Position Babies
The term moxibustion may sound a little scary, but it’s actually a very safe and effective technique used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment to get breech babies into the correct position for birth. This technique has been used for more than 2000 years and is successful in up to 85% off cases. The treatment works by relaxing the walls of the uterus giving the baby more room to turn.
Inducing Labor with Acupuncture
Once you reach the end of the third trimester, pregnancy can seem to drag on and on, especially when you’ve gone past your due date. An acupuncturist can use something called elector-stimulation to encourage the uterus to contract. It can be used to start labor and boost sluggish labor without the need for dangerous drugs.
Acupuncture During Labor
If you are looking for alternative ways to reduce pain during labor, consider having your acupuncturist attend your labor. Studies are showing acupuncture to be a very promising way to relieve labor and delivery pain without drugs.
Postpartum Use of Acupuncture
The benefits of acupuncture don’t end when your baby is born. Acupuncture is useful for issues with postpartum depression and poor or inconsistent milk supply, and for rebalancing the hormones after pregnancy.
Pregnancy is often one of the most exciting and stressful times in a woman’s life. Taking advantage of these alternative treatments can help make this memorable time more pleasant, and even result in a healthier baby. Did you try prenatal massage or acupuncture during your pregnancy? Tell us about your experience!