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The Power of Community Acupuncture for Birth and Beyond

The first time I experienced Community Acupuncture was when I was living in South Korea. As a public school English teacher I received health benefits that included Chinese Medicine for a mere $5. After a friend’s recommendation I went to see her Doctor. I walked into a beautiful office and was lead into a large treatment room with beds and chairs all around, some with curtains for privacy and others open to the room. I was led to a bed and made comfortable. The doctor did my intake and the needles were carefully inserted. Meanwhile all around I could hear, see, and feel the other patients. The room was abuzz with all the healing patients were experiencing. It was such a unique experience for me at the time, having always seen a doctor in a private room. Here healing was not a private thing to be endured alone, but was a communal experience. Family members could be with their loved ones, and in their common desire to heal each patient offered a smile and nod to each other.

When I returned home it was several years before the first community acupuncture clinics began popping up in Vancouver. Though this model was slightly different, the decor was more western, no family members were around, and there were no curtains, the energy was still the same: the energy of people coming together to heal in community for an affordable price. It is important for us to be reminded that we are not alone on our journeys, that others also have difficulties and challenges. This can build our resilience. This is most crucial throughout the journey of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This is a time when we need to find our inner strength and be supported by those who have walked the path before us and those who are walking it with us. Gathering together and sharing the experience of pregnancy; the joys, the worries, the aches and pains, the nausea, the flickering of fetuses, can make our experiences much richer and more bearable.

In the final weeks of pregnancy, as we prepare for birth we look to our sisters, mothers, friends, aunties and peers for support and reassurance. At this time community acupuncture can help your body prepare for birth. Cervical ripening, sometimes called pre-birth acupuncture, begins at 36-37 weeks gestation. It consists of a series of treatments given once a week, based on your unique experience. Specific points are chosen on the hands, arms, legs and feet to help support the body’s natural process of preparing for birth while balancing any discomforts that you may be experiencing with your pregnancy.

 

Some of the benefits of pre-birth acupuncture include:

  • Cervical softening/ripening/dilation
  • Increasing blood flow to the Uterus
  • Supporting, regulating hormonal levels leading up to labour, including enhancing oxytocin release
  • Calming the mind and balancing emotions – fear & anxiety prior to childbirth, post-partum depression
  • Encouraging optimal fetal positioning and/or addressing breech/posterior positioning
  • Potentially decreasing pain and exhaustion during labour
  • Enhancing efficiency of labour, and shortening active labour
  • Reducing the rates of medical interventions
  • Addressing ongoing issues throughout pregnancy such as musculo-skeletal pain, gestational diabetes, edema, anemia, etc.
  • Potentially a faster recovery, less complications following childbirth
  • Promoting lactation, supporting breastfeeding

Throughout my own pregnancy I received acupuncture for a variety of discomforts but it was the cervical ripening treatments in community acupuncture that allowed me to take the time and space to settle into my body, to be reminded of all the women who went before me and connect into all the support that existed in my own community. Research has shown that cervical ripening acupuncture can create a more effective and shorter labour with a reduced rate of medical interventions. My experience as a mother, doula and treating women in clinic supports these findings.

I am delighted to be offering community acupuncture at Mothering Touch on Friday afternoons from 2:00-5pm. I invite you to come and be apart of this affordable community healing experience.

 

Marika Reid Hall BA HDP RAc

 

References:

Kubista E Kucera H. (1974) Geburtshilfe Perinatol; 178 224-9

Rabl M, et al. (2001) Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a  randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr; 113 (23-24): 942-6

Tempfer C, et al. (1998) Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest; 46:22-5

Betts D, Lennox S. (2006) Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture May; 17(3):17-20

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Eight to Twelve Weeks Pregnant

 

Eight to Twelve Weeks Pregnant

This business of explaining to people how far along you are in your pregnancy! When you have COMPLETED Eight weeks of pregnancy, you are in your NINTH week, but you are not nine weeks pregnant – yet

How you might feel between eight and twelve weeks of pregnancy:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting, food aversions or food cravings
  • Intense fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Increased urination
  • Sensitive breasts and nipples
  • Breasts may grow and nipples and areola and sebaceous glands of the areola (little brown or pink bumps)get darker

Things you may do between eight and twelve weeks of pregnancy:

  • If nausea and vomiting are a problem, you may want to read up on remedies. Motherisk is a great resource and even has a forum where you can talk to other moms having trouble with this.
  • Your bra may start to feel tight. It may be time to get bras in a larger cup size. You don’t need a maternity bra – a well-fitted bra of any sort will do. If your bra’s cups still fit but the band it too tight around your ribs, ask for a bra extender.
  • You may feel that your pants are too tight, or that you don’t like anything tight around your middle – even though you are not “showing” a pregnancy bump yet. Bella Bands or other waist band extenders are available for that time before you actually need to buy new, maternity pants.
  • Some women have very few symptoms of pregnancy at this stage. They don’t have nausea, they aren’t showing yet and they sometimes worry: “Am I really pregnant?” This feeling will pass, with time, as your body start to grow to accommodate the baby.
  • Buy a pregnancy book or two. Our favourites include:
    • Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
    • The New Pregnancy & Childbirth: Choices & Challenges by Sheila Kitzinger
    • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

 Between eight and twelve weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • be seeing you every four weeks at this stage
  • weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain
  • check your blood pressure
  • check your urine for protein and infection
  • discuss nutrition and food safety
  • palpate and measure your abdomen
  • after 10 or 12 weeks of pregnancy, you and your care provider will be able to hear the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
  • discuss work place safety with you
  • discuss genetic screening tests

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health: (Note that all the tasks below are just as important for the non-childbearing parent (the father or other parent) to undertake. The health of a child is affected by the health of the whole family, not just the mother’s.)

  • Talk, talk, talk with your partner about your plans as co-parents. This is a good time to work on your relationship and make it as strong and harmonious as possible.
  • Continue your normal physical activity routine. Unless you have some special risk, there is no need to reduce your activity.
  • Try a prenatal yoga or fitness class – a good place to meet other pregnant women
  • Avoid hot-tubs, steam rooms, saunas and hot yoga. Anything that raises your body temperature above 102°F or 38.9°C may put your baby at risk.
  • If you find yourself worrying about whether the risks of taking medication, or herbs, or  environmental toxins, you should of course, consult your doctor or midwife. But if you need the answer right now, try Motherisk.
  • Join the Pregnancy Happy Hour on Fridays evenings at the Mothering Touch Centre – “You don’t have to be showing to show up!”

Resources:

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Chef Laura to Visit Pregnancy Happy Hour – January 24 – 5pm

Chef Laura MooreNothing focuses our attention on nutrition quite like being pregnant: we now have the growth and development of another brand new human being to think about, not just our own health! Join whole food personal chef and caterer, Chef Laura Moore of the Good For You Gourmet, for a 20 minute presentation on Whole Foods Nutrition and Snack Ideas for Pregnant Moms. A mother herself to a thriving, home-birthed 8 year old boy, Chef Laura will cover:

1) Maximize Nutrition during different stages of pregnancy: now more than ever, the nutrition that we take in and absorb is important for the development of our baby. Yet there are times when nausea makes eating difficult: hear some fresh ideas for how to cope. Make a point of picking highly nutritious foods, with the best possible nutrient density.

2) Non-nauseating Snack Ideas that offer maximum nutrition: minimize strong flavoured and greasy foods such as onions, garlic, sausage, fish especially salmon, possibly cruciferous vegetables, fermented foods and stinky cheeses. Everyone is unique: these are guidelines. See ‘Simple Snacks’ list, plus snack platter.

3) Coping With Cravings: what can we do instead of reaching for the nitrate loaded pepperoni when we are craving protein? great ideas for healthy options presented, using Macrobiotic balance chart as a guideline.

In addition to trying out some great snacks in class, participants will receive a handout ‘5 Great Snack Tips for Pregnant Moms’ together with ‘Simple Snacks’ to take home with them.

Find out more about the personal chef and catering services offered by Chef Laura, plus FREE cooking classes at Planet Organic each month, online at www.gfyg.ca