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Acupuncture in Early Pregnancy
Supportive Care in the First Trimester
By Merry Reasons, M.S., L.Ac. - February 18, 2020
Itâ€™s such a joy when we hear from our clients that theyâ€™re pregnant. But we also understand that it can be a time full of worries and fears, as well as the excitement and anticipation. Supportive care for early pregnancy with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is about providing emotional support, physical relief for common first trimester ailments, and about offering our clients information on diet, lifestyle, and self-care. We love to offer continued care through pregnancy at the clinic since having a body-mind-spirit based approach during this time is just as important as it is while preparing for conception.Â
Acupuncture is very effective in supporting the physiological processes of early pregnancy. Acupuncture increases microcirculation in the uterus to promote implantation, formation of a healthy placenta, and optimal embryonic development. Treatment objectives are similar in fertility and early pregnancy in that we focus on down-regulating the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) to offset the stress response in the body, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and promoting beneficial hormonal responses. In early pregnancy, progesterone is necessary to support implantation and embryo development and ward off excess inflammatory/immune responses until the placenta takes over progesterone production around 10-12 weeks gestation1Â As I mentioned earlier, the first trimester can be emotionally stressful, especially for those who have gone through a long fertility journey or pregnancy losses. Anxiety and stress activate the HPA axis and may cause a reduction in progesterone production. We are here to offer supportive treatments to offset the stress response and to provide a safe and relaxing environment for our clients. We guide our clients to connect to their inner peace and trust that their pregnancy is progressing just as it should.Â
We recommend weekly or bi-weekly treatments during the first trimester of pregnancy,Â Â then monthly in the second and third trimesters, followed by weekly treatments to prepare for labor beginning at 36 weeks.
Below are some tips from both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine for early pregnancy wellness:
- Supplements: prenatal vitamins, Omega-3 fish oil (important for babyâ€™s brain production), methylated folate, and Vitamin D3.
- Avoid unsafe foods (raw meat/eggs, seafood with high levels of mercury, deli meat, unpasteurized milk products, raw sprouts, hot dogs, meat spreads).
- Avoid saunas/extremely hot baths/hot tubs/hot yoga
- Donâ€™t drink too much caffeine (200mg or less is acceptable, but if you can avoid it entirely thatâ€™s even better).
- Quit drinking alcohol and smoking (of course!)Â
- Donâ€™t clean the litter box (to avoid feline waste bacteria and toxoplasmosis)
- Schedule your first appointment with your OB GYN or midwife.
- Keep feet warm.
- Eat warm foods/drink warm water to keep digestive fire strong.Â
- Keep blood sugar balanced with small frequent meals, making sure you are eating enough protein.
- Sleep and nap if you can! Listen to your body when it needs to rest. Fatigue can also trigger symptoms of morning sickness.
- Avoid sexual intercourse during the first trimester in high risk pregnancies or if you have a history of miscarriages.
- And of course, get acupuncture to treat first trimester symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, morning sickness, and body aches and pains.Â Â Treatments can support optimal hormone balance and blood circulation.