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Fertility, Pregnancy, and Labor: A natural approach

Acupuncture:  for fertility, pregnancy and labor

By: Ron T. Dummar DC, MAOM 

Acupuncture, the insertion of tiny needles through the skin in specific locations with the intent to affect a specific change, and its herbal medicine companion have demonstrated over and over again their vital role in achieving, maintaining, and completing pregnancy.  These treatments promise to deliver greater comfort and peace of mind throughout the pre and perinatal period.  This article will highlight the benefits of acupuncture in fertility, pregnancy, and labor.    

The incidence of infertility appears to be increasingly more prevalent.  Some attribute this to the high-stakes-high-stress demands of our current way of life.  Others point to low quality nutrient sparse food supply, and still some attribute an overabundance of synthetically derived compounds that interfere with proper hormone regulation.  

Whatever the cause of infertility, acupuncture and herbs will improve a woman's chances of conceiving.  While acupuncture will not likely address the physical obstruction, such as tubal adhesions, it will still provide an improved effect on ovarian and follicular function.   Additionally, acupuncture will increase blood flow to the endometrium, thereby facilitating a thick lining, ideal for conception.  A mother choosing to undergo In vitro fertilization (IVF) will increase her chances of conception by 50% when acupuncture is included as part of the fertility treatment regimen.  

The Conclusions of a recent review of literature exploring the efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in the management of female infertility showed a 2-fold improvement in pregnancy rates over a four month period when compared to western medical fertility drug therapy or IVF over 12 months.  The study was funded by the Australian Government funded Primary Health Care Research Evaluation Development (PHCRED) Program.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) determined acupuncture to be found useful in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, and significantly reducing the duration of labor and labor pains.  There is also convincing evidence that acupuncture is beneficial in assisting a mother with a breach presenting baby.  

During the first trimester of pregnancy the focus of the treatment I provide is to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage and assist in minimizing common pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue.  Acupuncture during the second trimester will focus on maintaining pregnancy minimizing common symptoms and balancing musculoskeletal complaints.  Acupuncture during the third trimester prepares the body for labor by relaxing and softening ligaments and tendons, aiding cervical dilation and nourishing the blood.   This is also the time where acupuncture is used to turn breach babies.  Turning is most successful when treatments begin as early as possible.  The  33rd-36th week of pregnancy is the most ideal time to begin the turning process.  

When the mother has carried the baby full term, minimum of 39 weeks, acupuncture can be safely performed as labor induction for mothers seeking to start their labors without the assistance of Pitocin.  Acupuncture is rapidly becoming more popular for women through pregnancy and labor due to its natural, non-drug, side-effect free pain relieving ability.  Lastly, acupuncture can benefit a mother in labor experiencing abnormal uterine contractions.Women now have the option to utilize acupuncture to support optimal uterine function.  

If you are pregnant, looking to become such, or have reached full term, you should consider including Chinese medicine and acupuncture as part of your regular treatment regimen.  Finally, a safe and effective natural approach to maternity care.