Natural Labor Induction with Acupuncture

Sadie Minkoff

Sadie Minkoff L.Ac., FABORM

This is the column where our readers can write in with their questions. We’ll field the questions to one or more experts in the subject and post the responses typically within 2 weeks. Write Us with Your Question!

Q: I read that some women use of acupuncture to induce labor as an alternative to pitocin after 39 weeks of gestation. How does this work and is it safe?

Sadie Minkoff, L.Ac., FABORM and team at Sage Acupuncture in Austin specialize in Reproductive Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. 

A: Acupuncture is often used as a safe and drug-free method for encouraging labor to commence. In fact, several studies have shown that acupuncture intervention is effective in facilitating a more efficient birth.

Labor induction, defined as when labor is “initiated artificially with drugs,” is actually a misnomer when used to describe how acupuncture works. Acupuncture supports the natural unfolding of the birthing process rather than an exogenous intervention forcing the body to do something it would not otherwise do.

  • In our experience, the best results come when acupuncture is used as a pre-birth treatment, preparing the body for labor gradually with one treatment a week starting at 36-37 weeks gestation.
  • This is the perfect time to reduce stress, and support energy and stamina for labor. Treatments are tailored to each individual woman’s body and pregnancy history, with a focus on ripening the cervix and positioning the baby optimally for labor.

As background, a 2004 observational study looked at the effect of pre-birth acupuncture (Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20). Data on 169 women who received pre-birth acupuncture were compared to local population rates for gestation at onset of labor, incidence of medical induction, length of labor, use of analgesia and type of delivery:

  • In the acupuncture group comparing all caregivers (including midwives, OBs and specialists) the following were the overall statistics: 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women having their first baby this was a 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate.
  • When comparing midwifery only care, there was a 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery and a 9 % increase in normal vaginal births.
  • There was no statistical difference in the onset of early labor in those women receiving pre-birth acupuncture.

We’d love to see your question. Write Us!

Treating Allergies While Prergnant

Sadie Minkoff

Sadie Minkoff L.Ac., FABORM

This is the column where our readers can write in with their questions. We’ll field the questions to one or more experts in the subject and post the responses typically within 2 weeks. Write Us with Your Question!

Q: My nasal allergies are much worse now (at 4 months pregnant) than they were a year ago. What are some ways to feel better that won’t potentially harm me and my baby?

Sadie Minkoff, L.Ac., FABORM and team at Sage Acupuncture in Austin specialize in Reproductive Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. 

 

This is a great question! We treat many pregnant women suffering from allergies. Not only because we live in Austin, the “allergy capital of the world” but also because when you are pregnant, your mucus production increases and your immune system is often more sensitive.

Here are 5 Tips to Help you Feel Better Naturally:

  1. Try a daily nasal wash like the Neti pot, to decrease sinus congestion and inflammation.
  2. Take a shower in the evening to wash away any residual pollen or dust from the day.
  3. Stay well hydrated and get as much rest as possible to keep your immune system strong.
  4. Reduce or eliminate dairy (goat dairy is less congesting than cow), as well as refined sugar, which contribute to inflammation and increased phlegm accumulation.
  5. Last but not least, acupuncture is a great support for allergies and for prevention of sinus infections. It is recommended for many pregnancy-related symptoms such as sciatica, insomnia, nausea, digestive upset, stress, fatigue, and yes, allergies.

Research has shown that acupuncture has a positive effect on the immune system as well as relieving the uncomfortable symptoms associated with allergies, including: sinus congestion, sneezing, runny nose, headaches, scratchy throat, and fatigue.

We’d love to see your question. Write Us!

Preparing Your Body for Fertility

Sadie Minkoff

Sadie Minkoff L.Ac., FABORM

If you are reading this post, it is probably because you are preparing to grow your family in your thirties or early forties. In spite of what you may have heard, this is a great time in life to become a parent and more and more people are choosing to do so. In fact there is some evidence that, although it may not be as easy to conceive as for our younger counterparts, women of advanced maternal age may have more success than was originally thought. So how can you optimize your chances? Chinese Medicine is one of the best ways to support fertility.

Often women hear about positive experiences with Chinese Medicine from their friends and family, from a support group, or from their doctors.

Treatment with Chinese Medicine involves a combination of receiving acupuncture, shifting lifestyle habits, and learning what you can do to optimize the potential to conceive and carry a healthy baby.

Why Acupuncture?

Acupuncture techniques have been proven to regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. This may improve the health of ovaries and their hormone production, a concern for women of advanced maternal age. It may stimulate blood flow to the uterus (by inhibiting uterine central sympathetic nerve activity), increase serotonin, and decrease stress. Often your practitioner will also prescribe medicinal herbs to facilitate this process. The combination of acupuncture and herbs has a synergistic effect.

The idea of changing our habits may seem daunting, but things can shift in a remarkable way with some relatively simple changes. Everyone knows that eating better makes us healthier, but there are some specific things that we can do to optimize our health and fertility. Focusing on changing one’s diet is part of the equation.

Chinese Medicine focuses on paying attention to the entire mind, body and spirit as a whole. Consider the following:

  • What makes you happy?
  • What is fun for you to do?
  • Tap into your creativity.
  • Take walks in nature.
  • Move your body. Exercise releases endorphins which help to keep a more positive focus when life gets difficult.
  • Do something regularly to take care of yourself and give yourself the attention that you deserve. That could mean receiving a massage, going dancing, journaling, or painting. Meditation, yoga, and/or tai qi are avenues for stress and anxiety reduction, as well as for the simple act of being with oneself.

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