This week on our blog Dr Cindy Laudan-Ho continues her blog series on how Acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, can be beneficial for moms as they prepare to give birth. Dr Cindy heads up our Placenta Encapsulation team here at Tender Touches, and regularly sees patients for Acupuncture at Body in Balance Acupuncture, in NW Calgary. She is extremely knowlegdable on all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum related; and we hope you find this info helpful as you prepare to welcome your new little one.
~ Doula In The Wild
Starting at 37 weeks, I begin induction with acupuncture for moms. I really dislike the word "induction" in Chinese medicine because it implies the western type of induction where baby is going to come tonight. This is often not the case with acupuncture unless a mom is 40+ weeks. By beginning at 37 weeks, 1-2 times per week, we are gently encouraging the body to start preparing for labor by stimulating uterine contractions to help baby drop, and engage, soften the cervix for effacement, and turning the baby if need be. The points chosen are very specific, and are contraindicated in all pregnancies until 37 weeks when you are safe to deliver. These points have a very strong downward Qi movement, while also boosting Qi and blood to give you a strong foundation going into labor. As I'm sure you've heard, or already experienced previously, delivering a baby is a lot of work! It is depleting and takes a lot out of a women, physically as well as mentally. If we build a solid foundation of Qi and Blood prior to, birth will be easier and recovery will be more efficient. Even if you do end up needing a medical induction, instead of going from the proverbial 0 to 100km/hour, your body will be prepped, and it would be more like going from 60 to 100km/hour. This strong foundation is incredibly important for you to have the energy required for labor and birth and for a better postpartum recovery. It’s like training for a marathon. You wouldn’t get up and decide to run a challenging distance that day without training for it right?
These are the points I needle starting at 37 weeks, and throughout labor...
Gall bladder 21- This point can be found at the highest point of your trapezius muscle (the tops of your shoulders). It has a strong downward Qi movement to help baby drop and engage.
Large Intestine 4- On the top of your hand in the sensitive part between your thumb and index finger. Approximately where the tip of your thumb falls when you line up the distal interphalangeal joint (the joint closest to your thumbs tip) to the web between your thumb and index finger. This point also has a strong downward Qi movement and helps stimulate your uterine contractions and stop pain.
Pericardium 6- Approximately 2 fingers width (the mom-to-be’s finger measurement) from the largest crease in your wrist towards your shoulder, between the 2 tendons. While not an induction point or contraindication in labor, it is the #1 point for nausea for those of us who feel ill while in labor :)
Stomach 36- Approximately 4 finger widths down your lateral (on the outside) shin from the base of your patella (the moveable floating joint in your knee), and one thumb width away from the shin crest. Feel around for this point as no one is text book. The mom-to-be will find this point sensitive and you will know you are in the right spot. This point is also not an induction/contraindicated during pregnancy point, but I always add it to help boost Qi to give the mom more energy during her labor. It also helps increase white blood cell count!
Spleen 6- On the inside of your shin, the sensitive spot that often indents under your finger, Approximately 4 finger widths above your medial malleolus (tip of your inner ankle bone). This point helps to soften the cervix for effacement-it helps it thin and open.
Urinary Bladder 60- On the outide of your ankle, between your lateral malleolus (tip of your outer ankle bone) and your Achilles’ tendon. This is a good labor prep point and good for pain during labor (especially back labor pains).
Urinary Bladder 31-34- These points are found along your tail bone forming the same “v” shape as the mom’s coccyx. Place your fingers along the facet grooves between each spinal vertebrae to help with pain during labor.
In between seeing you for weekly treatments, and during the birth, you can do Acupressure at home!
Acupressure utilizes the same points as Acupuncture, but instead of needles, you use your fingers. This makes it very partner friendly, and easy to do at home. Debra Betts has an amazing app and a website where you can find the acupressure points you can use during labor. Her downloadable PDF is very user friendly and includes pictures to help clarify the process for partners and support people. Be cautious when doing acupressure that you are not hyperextending your fingers leading to tired, and sore hands, as well as future chronic pain. Try to keep your fingers as straight as possible. Keep in mind that no one is text book. These point location descriptions are just a starting point. You can palpate around and find the sensitive spot or the spot that works for the mom while she is in labor.
Birth prep is such a great idea that I cannot believe more people don’t do it. I know acupuncture is listed as a common induction method, and while I do see patients at 40+ weeks sent from their OB’s or midwives, it is so much better to start “training for your marathon” weeks before the day you are going to run!
Looking to connect with Dr Cindy? Email her today.
By: Doula Sonja
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