Acupuncture and Acupressure for Pregnancy

Acupuncture and Acupressure for Pregnancy by Grace Ganel, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., C.Z.B.


Anecdotally, it seems like pregnant people abound these days. Now that vaccinations have rolled out, it feels as though many younger people are seizing the opportunity of increased safety from the pandemic to press play on their family planning. Did you know that acupuncture and acupressure are wonderful complementary therapies for pregnancy? From morning sickness to constipation, bloating to insomnia, Chinese medicine has a point for that!

Note that this blog post does not replace medical intervention or individual assessment. Particularly if you are experiencing severe vomiting many times per day, or if you have not had a bowel movement for 4 days, please contact your medical provider right away, as these can be signs of serious problems. If you are pregnant and develop flu-like symptoms, please contact your medical provider immediately – some infections can be very dangerous to the fetus, and it’s important that you are screened for these right away if you’re feeling sick!



Morning sickness


This affliction can happen all day all the way up through week 16. Eating frequent, small, complex meals (i.e. not just crackers. Have some pasteurized cheese on that cracker. Have a bit of nut butter with your apple slices) can help hold off the queasiness. Staying hydrated is also very important, especially if you are experiencing vomiting. You can talk to your provider about whether you need electrolytes. Barring that, eating a balanced diet and drinking enough water for you (which might be more than before you were pregnant!) should go a long way towards helping you to feel better throughout the day.

In Chinese Medicine, morning sickness is a sign of “rebellious Qi,” which means the energy, in this case of the Stomach channel, is not moving in the correct direction. The Stomach Qi is supposed to move downwards, but nausea and vomiting are upward movements. Points that help with morning sickness very gently encourage the healthy flow of Stomach Qi.

For morning sickness, you can try gentle acupressure on Bridge Gate

You can find this point half-way between your belly button and the bottom of your breastbone, at the edge of the ab muscles (about one hand-width away from your mid-line). Massage this point gently (slow, steady, small amount of pressure) to help gently pull the energy of the Stomach back down.



You can also ask a support person to very gently run their fingers down the outsides of your shin bones. When you’re feeling nauseated, it often doesn’t feel great to bend down! But phone-a-friend to very gently stimulate these points in a downward motion to ease the queasies. If the acupressure doesn’t help right away, skip these points and get in my schedule so we can find a good solution for your specific concerns!


Constipation and Bloating


Just as with morning sickness, eating regularly and staying hydrated can also help with constipation and bloating during pregnancy. And just as with constipation at any time, getting a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can go a long way towards helping you stay regular in the bathroom. From a Chinese medicine perspective, getting an appropriate balance of rest and movement in your day (take a nap when you feel the need, but try to also go for a walk, do Qigong or prenatal Yoga, and maintain any other aspects of your pre-pregnancy fitness routine that your medical provider signs off on). It’s also important to regulate your mood as much as you’re able to, especially around meal times. Avoid eating while in a strong emotional state whenever possible, and avoid multi-tasking while eating (e.g. reading the news at breakfast, taking a “working lunch,” or watching a thriller with your dinner at the couch). Best to only do one thing while eating: eat!



That same maneuver your buddy can do for you for morning sickness could help with constipation and bloating, as well – gently running the fingers down the outer edge of the shin bone. One point that’s particularly indicated to help get the bowels moving is just under the ankle bone on the inside of the ankle. This point is often a bit tender, which can help you to find it. With your ankle across your other knee and your foot held at a right angle to your leg, place a finger on the bony bit of your inner ankle, then run that finger straight down towards the bottom of your foot about .5-1 inch. You’ll fall into a sore little hollow in the tissues here. Press with slow, steady, gentle pressure to help get the ball rolling on your bowel movements.


Insomnia


There are so many different kinds of insomnia, whether you’re pregnant or not. If you’re experiencing severe insomnia most nights, please consult your medical provider. Practice appropriate sleep hygiene, such as keeping a consistent sleep-wake cycle (go to bed and get up around the same time every day), avoiding bright lights and screens within an hour of your bedtime, and making a bedtime routine for yourself that helps your body learn it’s time to sleep. It can also be helpful to get appropriate exercise for your body, eat at regular intervals, and “dump” any to-dos or things you’re worrying about into a journal as part of your daily bedtime routine. It’s a way of setting these things aside for another time – “I can pick this list back up tomorrow, right now I need to sleep.”

For insomnia, as for many things, there’s no one-point-fits-all, but the closest you can get is Anmian, a point whose name means, “Peaceful Sleep.” This point can be found near the back edge of the bony prominence behind the ear. There’s a slightly hollow spot on the bone there.



I would love to help you with these concerns and more!

Individualized care is the best for all of these concerns. Many different factors can contribute to these symptoms during pregnancy, so the treatments are catered to the contributing factors. It’s also important to take steps in your lifestyle to promote health and decrease the causes of these symptoms. That’s what I mean when I say I want to help you learn your body’s language! If you experience any of these symptoms and want support, whether you’re pregnant or not, schedule an appointment with me today!