Expert Interview: Acupuncture for Fertility, Pregnancy + Birth

Expert Interview: Acupuncture for Fertility, Pregnancy + Birth

Written on 02/24/2018
Nadine Richardson

At She Births® Courses we cover a huge range of different tools and techniques to prepare you inside and out so that you can experience a smoother pregnancy and a better, more beautiful birth.

We want you – your body and mind – to be functioning at its absolute optimum. Which is why we also suggest considering various complementary therapies such as physio, osteo, massage, yoga, and acupuncture.

Acupuncture has so many benefits, and we recommend visiting an experienced acupuncturist from 36 weeks to help get your baby in the optimal birth position (head down, anterior), and as a way to bring on labour in a gentle, natural way – so that you can avoid a medical induction.

This week we speak to Rebecca Mar Young – acupuncturist, herbalist, mother of two, and co-founder of the Red Tent Health Centre in Bondi, about acupuncture – how it works and how it can help you across the whole perinatal period – from conception through to  postpartum (see below).

And there’s a SPECIAL OFFER for our She Births® community too – receive $20 off your next acupuncture appointment at the Red Tent simply by mentioning She Births®. Offer ends 31 April 2018. Enjoy!

SHE BIRTHS® COURSES – USA

A big congratulations to Anna Kooiman and Tim Stuckey on their beautiful baby Brooks! And thank you for the positive feedback – we’re so happy the tools were helpful.

“I had a great She Births® experience. Partially because of the skills I learned, I was able to have a drug free, natural birth, even with a posterior baby. I recommend She Births®️ for couples looking to make their pregnancy and birth a sensual experience.

My husband and I enjoyed a Weekend Course with Nadine Richardson and I listened to several of the podcasts to refresh the content in my mind afterward. In the weeks leading up to delivery, my husband and I utilized massage and acupressure and used the rebozo. I practiced prenatal yoga, breathing techniques, and visualizations.

My baby boy is now a month old and I am such a proud mama! She Births®️not only taught me skills for labour but also for successfully breastfeeding.”

New York came to She Births® and now we’re heading to New York (and LA)!

New York: 21 – 22 April | Los Angeles: 28 – 29 April

Spaces are limited, find out more.  And help us spread the word by forwarding this on to any pregnant friends in the US.

Love and gratitude,

Nadine xxx

ACUPUNCTURE FOR FERTILITY, PREGNANCY + BIRTH

With Rebecca Mar Young, Red Tent Health Centre

How does acupuncture work?

Ah ha! Now that is the question that everyone is asking.

Really, no one can give you a scientific answer. But that’s what I love about it. We still don’t know how or why acupuncture works.

It’s similar to how we still don’t know exactly how or when a baby is ready to birth. Life has some mystery for us, which I love.

Having said that though, I can explain how acupuncture works in terms of Chinese medical theory.

Acupuncture is the use of fine needles inserted into specific points along a meridian. This needle insertion will affect how the Qi of that meridian flows.

A meridian is an energy channel where Qi flows. Qi can roughly be described as energy – a life force – and it has a certain direction that it runs in according to what channel it’s hanging out in. Imagine electricity flowing along power lines, changing direction according to its circuit breakers, and you are starting to get the vibe of how energy travels through your body.

For example, the Kidney channel starts on the bottom of your foot and goes up your inner leg, up past your groin, travels just to the side of your midline and finishes just below your clavicle. It’s present on both sides of your body and is super important for fertility, pregnancy and birth.

When you insert an acupuncture needle into a meridian, you are having an impact on that spot specifically. But you are also affecting the organ connected to that meridian, as well as other parts of your body that are connected on this channel. So putting a needle into KD-7, a point on the bottom of your foot, nourishes your kidneys, which have an impact on fertility, pregnancy and long life as well as helping fluid metabolism to improve.

Can acupuncture help you get pregnant?

Yes, acupuncture can help with conception. Why? Because it helps your body to function at its optimal capacity, thereby maximising your fertility.

Many women I see have stagnant blood. This means that your blood, and therefore your energy, is not flowing throughout your body as freely as it should. Acupuncture helps to encourage movement so that the blood flows so much better through your vessels, nourishing all your organs and cells. Well-nourished organs and cells are vital for conception.

Acupuncture can improve your Spleen and Stomach, which are synonymous with digestion. You might not think that digestion has a lot to do with getting pregnant, but think about it. Where does your body (including organs and cells, not to mention a growing baby) get its nourishment? From food. How are nutrients extracted from food? In digestion! Digestion is a crucial component of overall health and it directly affects conception and pregnancy.

Acupuncture has a positive impact on your Kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the Kidneys are responsible for ensuring that you can have children in the first place, that you can carry to term and that you will live a long life with good health.

We talk about the Liver a lot in Chinese medicine and the Liver meridian needs to be free flowing in order to function well. The Liver is responsible for optimal digestion, mood and your hormones. So when your Liver is upset, this can interfere with these processes and acupuncture can help that meridian to be free flowing again.

Acupuncture can also improve your immunity. When you are trying to conceive, if your body is constantly battling illness, its resources are depleted. You want it to be in the best possible shape for pregnancy so that rather than being preoccupied with protecting against sickness and fighting inflammation, your body can concentrate on making that baby!

Aside from all these physical benefits, acupuncture is also a wonderful tool to help diminish stress and anxiety. A calm and happy mindset can play a significant role in conceiving.

As you can see, Chinese medicine has a unique way of looking at your body. It aims to help you as a whole person to function to your ultimate capacity.

What kind of pregnancy symptoms can acupuncture help with?

During pregnancy, so many different aches and pains can crop up and you don’t need to just grin and bear it. These symptoms mean your Qi isn’t flowing well or is stuck and could use a hand getting unstuck. Anxiety, back aches, weird rib pains, neck ache, leg pains, pubic pain, not great sleep and so much more can be helped using acupuncture.

Unlike all those drugs and remedies you can’t take during pregnancy, acupuncture is a natural alternative that’s widely used during pregnancy.

How can acupuncture help in preparation for birth?

Many women come to the Red Tent Health Centre when they’re about to have a baby and they want some help to naturally get their baby moving down and out. Whilst we call it natural induction, it’s not forceful like a medical induction. It’s very different.

First of all, women report how relaxed they feel after their natural induction with acupuncture. This is partly due to the fact that we don’t just do an induction – we always treat the whole woman for whatever is going on for her: stress, anxiety, poor sleep, sore back etc.

Secondly, we help get the baby into a good position for labour. Again, we gently coax the baby to move with acupuncture. It doesn’t and cannot force anything, it only encourages the woman’s body and her baby to do what they are already ready to do, but may need some extra help.

Third, we cultivate a soothing environment. We relax muscles and tendons, help her hips to open more, calm her mind and get her oxytocin flowing – that love hormone that you will need in droves come birth.

I like to give the analogy that we line all the dominos up during these pre-treatments and then the later treatments help to tip you over the edge, into pre-labour and ultimately labour.

When is the best time to start acupuncture in preparation for birth?

The best time to start acupuncture for birth prep is at 36 weeks. Where possible, we recommend weekly from 36 weeks up until 40 weeks, then every few days.

This is a rough guide. It depends on the individual woman and the reports we hear from their midwife or obstetrician. We work closely with their birth team to assist the normal natural birth process. If a baby is breech for example, we like to start trying to turn them from 33 weeks as there is more room, so it all depends. (Yes, acupuncture can help turn a breech baby!)

We also work with women who for whatever reason know they need to have a caesarean birth. Acupuncture can help them prepare mentally for what is about to happen, but also physically. A c-section is physically demanding in terms of recovery and we use specific points to help strengthen your body in preparation for that.

On that note, acupuncture can assist with physical preparation for postnatal recovery and the normal demands of caring for a newborn. Anyone who has had a baby will tell you there is so much physical activity afterwards in terms of carrying, lifting up, holding, putting down. It’s best if you’re in good shape for it.

How can acupuncture be beneficial during postnatal recovery?

After baby is born, acupuncture can help to reduce swelling, help your bowels to move, improve your energy, lift and stabilise your mood, improve your immunity, bring back sensation to where there may be numbness, reduce fatigue, relieve anxiety and assist with postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression is more common than many new mums realise, but unfortunately there is often shame and confusion about the symptoms. Mum either doesn’t want to admit that things are really hard for her, or she isn’t even aware of what’s happening because everything is suddenly so new and different. It can be hard to judge if it’s an adjustment period or you have slipped further mentally.

Acupuncture can help ease postnatal depression but it can also serve to “unlock” buried feelings or bring awareness to how her body and mind are feeling, so that she can start to find help and to heal. We encourage women who think they may be experiencing postnatal depression to try some acupuncture and visit their GP. It can also be helpful to call the national helpline PANDA on 1300 726 306.

Acupuncture is a wonderful modality to care for the new mother – and baby if necessary! We often see little ones at Red Tent Health Centre too, and I just love tending to them throughout their first year of life. I find that’s often what brings mothers in – their baby – not usually them, as they go to the bottom of the pile of priorities.

In Chinese medicine, there is a saying: The mother feeds the child. So if the mother isn’t well, neither is the baby. But many women need to take care of their baby first before they will consider caring for themselves. In our holistic treatments, we offer something for both of them as they’re a tightly knit unit that cannot and should not be broken apart. What affects one will always affect the other.

Often it can be hard for mums to come in for treatment post-birth so I recommend herbal medicine, supplements and lots of good food at home to get them back on track, whilst I give their bubba some gentle, quick acupuncture. With babies, the needle is simply in and out, and it’s over! Babies often completely miss that it’s just happened. I’ve treated sleeping babies in capsules, awake babies, crawling babies and walking babies – I still like to call them a baby when they’re walking but toddler would be more accurate!

If you’d like to find out more about the Red Tent visit redtent.com.au.