I'd always been fascinated by the limits of the human body. I was about to find out that pregnancy and birth provided a far greater teaching of the body's extraordinary capabilities than mere athletics ever would.Read More
Alright ladies, here are some acupressure points you can use to induce labor naturally or help a stalled labor get back on track. To be clear, please don't start these until your are full term. Also, because we are using pressure instead of needles (acupuncture), it's going to take some effort on your part. What do I mean by this, I mean you or your partner are going to have to do them every hour or so and sometimes for days to really get things rolling. So, don't try it once and decide it didn't work. Make a decision and keep at it.Read More
Let's talk about where postpartum comes from and how to do our best to prevent it naturally during pregnancy, as well as how to take the stigma away so that you can ask for help if you need it.Read More
With an all time high rate of 32.8% for cesarian birth in our country, Acupuncture has recently gained popularity as a method of turning a breech baby or inducing labor naturally. This article seeks to demystify this ancient approach as I have seen it work time and time again. Traditionally, the point named Zhi Yin or UB-67, located on the lateral side of the pinky toe is used to turn a baby in breech presentation. Zhi Yin translates to “Reaching Yin.” For those of you with some working knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, one can understand how a fetus would be the utmost Yin (fluid, soft tissue, or very center) of a woman’s body as the fetus does not obtain its own Yang energy until it takes its first breath outside of the womb.
To offer assistance with breech presentation, often only one acupuncture appointment is needed. Typically the mother is instructed to continue using a technique called moxabustionat home for 10-20 minutes a day until her next sonogram or physical examination. Moxabustion is a technique that involves burning of an herb called mugwort to gently stimulate an acupuncture point. Exceptions to this treatment are when there are structural hindrances in the mother’s body, low levels of amniotic fluid, dehydration or what we sometimes call blood deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Points and techniques are chosen to address the blocks first before attempting to needle or moxa the point that coerce the baby to turn into the proper head down position. When the mother is properly hydrated it increases the volume of amniotic fluid allowing the baby to turn with ease. When the mother is properly nourished, the blood supply in the uterus is ample allowing the baby to turn and calmly remain in the head down position instead of becoming what we refer to as “restless” and moving in and out of position. Helpful food choices that prime a pregnant woman’s body for optimal conditions for a fetus to turn can include coconut water, fruits high in water content, eggs, avocados, red meat, red raspberry leaf tea, and fatty fishes that are high in omega-3 like salmon and tuna.
Although babies can be successfully relocated to the proper position up to the moment before birth, it is optimal to seek out treatment around week 33-34 of your pregnancy if you know your baby is not in the correct position. This ensures that all significant blocks to turning are addressed and allows more time with the baby’s head against the cervix to help release proper hormones needed for a smooth birth.
It’s all too often that I get a phone call from a frantic Mom-to-be or Father for that matter, desperate for labor to start. Reasons range from fear of the impending doom of a forced induction with pharmaceuticals to a scheduled C-section because they are overdue or high-risk, to just simply being ready to get the show on the road. Many people are under the assumption that by taking a few herbs or doing a couple acupuncture points that are traditionally contraindicated during pregnancy, that you can make labor happen instantly. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The fact of the matter is that there is very little known about the mechanism of birth or what makes a baby decide that it is in fact time to make his or her grand introduction into the world. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions I get on the phone. Can acupuncture cause contractions? Yes sometimes. Can it help to make contractions more regular if they are already randomly occurring? Yes. Can you cause someone’s water to break? Probably not! Will you leave my office in labor? Highly unlikely, although the chance for naturally going into labor in the next 48 hours seems to jump significantly after you are over 40 weeks of gestation.
When I’m asked if I perform labor inductions, my answer is, “No, but I do offer the service of Labor Prep.” Labor Prep usually begins around week 37-38 depending on the woman, but can be started as late as week 41. Just like any other patient, your complete medical history is discussed; emphasis is placed on the pregnancy and any prior pregnancies, to gain a better understanding of you how your body reacts physically and emotionally. Any repetitive patterns of disharmony are noted and checked against pulse and tongue diagnosis and channel palpation. Appropriate points are then needled to help you feel your best going into labor. All fears or concerns about birth are addressed during your appointment. This is commonly a cause to delayed labor. Sometimes its “stuff” you didn’t even realize was an issue (like not wanting a relative in the room during your magic moment, but not wanting to hurt their feelings by saying no or the impending feeling of immense responsibility for the rest of your life). As with all acupuncture treatments, typically the biggest side effect is relaxation which is always helpful when trying to initiate birth. As your due date draws closer and your body is in a strong enough state to thrive in labor, points that may help to initiate descent of the fetus, dilation and softening of the cervix, or for coercion of contractions are then used. Sometimes you may be instructed to perform acupressure on yourself in between appointments to help further things along. Herbs are sometimes employed depending on the health, needs and wishes of the parents. Appointments are typically once a week from weeks 37-40 and then treatments are given in rapid succession three times in a row anywhere in the range of weeks 40-42 depending on the mother’s health and fetal measurements.
Lastly, if your partner is available, they are encouraged to attend at least one of your appointments. They will be instructed on how to perform acupressure on you during labor to help you progress in a timely manner. This is often helpful so that they feel like an active participant in the event of birth instead of standing helpless in a corner as the woman they love screams in pain. Acupressure during labor can help to ensure that contractions are strong and getting you somewhere instead of wearing you and baby out, while providing a slow release of natural endorphins that help you to manage the discomfort while remaining as relaxed as possible. Your brain has spent the last 10 months saving up endorphins for this occasion and has a finite amount to release during the labor and birth. Acupressure is a safe and non-invasive way to encourage your brain to release the appropriate amount in conjunction with the stage of labor you are in. PDF manuals and demonstration videos can also be emailed to the interested and tech-savvy partner so that they have a simple way to retrieve a short, to the point reminder during the event. No pun intended!
Click for video of acupressure points to help bring on labor.