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Pregnancy & Postpartum

San Luis Obispo Family Acupuncture is happy to treat women in all stages of pregnancy. Your baby’s health, as well as your health and comfort, are of the utmost importance. To aid in your well-being and relaxation, SLO Family Acupuncture exclusively uses massage tables that are specifically made for use during pregnancy.

Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman’s life. It is a time to celebrate, glow, flourish, and most of all, get excited for the new family addition. Pregnancy is one of the most natural cycles in human life. Unfortunately in today’s society pregnancy can often come with some uncomfortable and mood-ruining aches, pains, and issues. Acupuncture is a very safe, gentle, and pharmaceutical-free way to deal with most of these common ailments.

Not only can acupuncture help treat issues that may arise during pregnancy, but it also helps to create a healthy and comfortable pregnancy. As the due date approaches, weekly acupuncture treatments can help prepare the mother for a smooth labor by helping to alleviate anxiety and stress, relax the pelvic floor musculature, ripen the cervix, and ease the baby into a comfortable, lower position.

Common Conditions Treated During Pregnancy:

Healthy Pregnancy

Photo by Nicole Pratt

  • Prevention of Miscarriage
  • Morning Sickness
  • Fatigue
  • Digestion Irregularities
  • Constipation
  • Increased Immunity
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Sciatica
  • Low back pain
  • Body Aches
  • Leg Cramps
  • Varicose Veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Edema
  • Insomnia
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety, Stress, and other Emotional Issues
  • Breech Presentation – Spinning Babies is a great website for information on optimal fetal positioning.
  • Delayed Labor

To find out if acupuncture during your pregnancy is right for you, contact SLO Family Acupuncture!

Pre-Birth Acupuncture

Pre-birth, or pre-labor, acupuncture refers to a series of acupuncture treatments given in the last weeks of a pregnancy. Ideally, weekly pre-birth treatments would start at 36-37 weeks. Acupuncture treatments are centered around decreasing anxiety, aiding the baby into an optimal position, cervical ripening, and relaxing of the pelvic muscles. Recent research has shown that pre-birth acupuncture can lead to a shorter active labor time and a reduced need for medical interventions. If you would like more information on this research visit one of the following links:

By taking an active role in the last weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s body and the baby will be in the position to go through the stages of labor naturally and more comfortably. Whether a delivery is planned for a hospital, home, or birth center setting pre-birth acupuncture can help encourage a smooth transition.

Encouraging Natural Labor

Recent research has pointed out that labor actually begins when the baby’s lungs mature enough and secrete a protein called surfactant. Surfactant is essential breathing outside the womb. The release of this protein signals a cascade of hormones in the mother telling the mother’s body to initiate labor. (Dr. Carole Mendelson, Dr. Jennifer Condon and Dr. Pancharatnam Jeyasuria, 2004). As the baby prepares and lowers in the mother’s body it puts pressure on the cervix causing a release in the hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin is a very important hormone in labor and delivery. It thins and dilates the cervix, causes contractions, and moves the baby down and out of the birth canal. It also releases breast milk and triggers nurturing and bonding feelings.

During the last several years I have noticed a trend within the OB-GYN world. More and more often I am hearing of women who are told they will need to be medically induced to start their labor. There are definitely medical reasons that you may need to be induced, but the trend is heading towards, what is known as, “social induction.” This is when the induction is for the convenience of the doctor, midwife or family. Your doctor also may want to induce you if they feel the baby is getting too big or they do not want you going past the due date. You also may be getting excited or tired of being pregnant and ready to meet your new addition. However, medical inductions come with a host of medical risks to both the mother and baby.

Risks associated with Medical Induction:

  • Placental Abruption
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Fetal Distress
  • Increased chance of C-section
  • Increased use of forceps or the vacuum
  • Increased use of other interventions (pain relievers, continuous fetal monitering, etc)
  • Increased risks that come with a premature baby even though you may believe your baby is full term
  • Low birth weight
  • Jaundice

In addition, medical inductions are often done using the drug Pitocin. Pitocin is meant to mimic oxytocin by stimulating contractions, but the two are very different. Click here for an article describing the differences between the two.

Regardless of what the reason is, if a labor induction is planned I urge you to look for a more natural way. Acupuncture is an excellent option to help prepare the baby and body for labor and encourage the body’s own natural labor process. It would be ideal to start getting acupuncture at 36 weeks as outlined in the above section on Pre-Birth acupuncture. Acupuncture can help prepare the cervix, balance hormones, relax your mind and body, and encourage the natural downward flow of energy needed in labor. By improving blood circulation to the uterus and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles a comfortable environment for the baby is created allowing the baby to mature and progress. Women who receive acupuncture to encourage labor also often experience a shorter and less painful labor. Please contact SLO Family Acupuncture if you have any questions regarding using acupuncture to encourage your own natural labor process or to discuss other natural ways to assist in the labor process.

Here are a few informative articles on the importance of allowing labor to begin on it’s own:

Acupuncture for Labor Pains

Acupuncture during the early stages of labor and acupressure throughout labor has been effectively shown to reduce the need for pain medication and shorten the length of labor. A Danish study was done in which 603 laboring women were given either acupuncture, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), or traditional pain medication, such as epidural anesthesia, pethidine (Demerol), nitrous oxide, and warm bath. After the test the research team concluded that those who had the TENS or the traditional pain relievers asked for more pharmacological pain killers than those women who received acupuncture. The group of women who received acupuncture also showed to be more relaxed than the other groups. Other clinical research has shown that not only does acupuncture relieve some labor pain, but it did in fact shorten the labor process.

Postpartum Recovery


Photo by Nicole Pratt

In learning to care for someone else we often forget to take care of ourselves. Childbirth and caring for a newborn are huge drains on a woman’s body physically, mentally, and emotionally. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine becomes invaluable during this time. It is sometimes hard to ask for help and with the tremendous adjustment of having a new baby to care for it is beneficial to have a plan in place and a relationship with a practitioner. Getting out of the house for an hour alone may seem like a huge feat for a new mother, but a healthy, happy mother makes for a happy, healthy baby.

Acupuncture during postpartum recovery is an excellent way to gain more strength and energy, improve quality of sleep, prevent postpartum depression and the “baby blues,” and get some quality “me” time.

Physically, postpartum acupuncture can help with:

Body aches and pains
Healing from incisions
Insufficient lactation
Persistent Lochia
Urinary Difficulty

To set up an appointment now for your postpartum recovery, contact: SLO Family Acupuncture!