Tanya Smith Acupuncturist Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Therapy for Pregnancy Discomforts

A Little Known Therapy for Pregnancy Discomforts

There are things that happen in your body during pregnancy that nobody talks much about, common discomforts that can make your pregnancy uncomfortable or downright miserable. But you don’t have to suffer needlessly.

There is a lesser known technique in Chinese Medicine called Moxibustion (Moxa) that helps a great deal to gently alleviate symptoms. Moxa is a plant (Artemisia Vulgaris) that is used as a heat source to stimulate acupuncture points. Because it is so gentle, moxa can be used safely in pregnancy to treat a surprising range of symptoms!

What is moxa good for?

Iron-deficiency anemia – Pregnant women often struggle with low iron levels. There are two times in pregnancy when women are especially vulnerable to developing iron-deficiency anemia. The first is when the woman’s blood volume increases around the 20th week and the second is in the last four to six weeks of pregnancy when the baby is laying down it’s own iron stores. 
Moxa can be used in either of these times and seems to significantly improve iron levels beyond what would be expected by supplementation alone.

Edema and swelling – Many women have annoying or painful swelling in their legs and feet during pregnancy. Nightly foot massages from a partner are great, but the effects are short lived and the swelling is back the next day. 
Although any swelling needs to be reported to your care provider, if it is mild, moxa will bring welcome relief and help manage swelling and allow definition of the ankle and feet bones to return.

Small for dates babies – Pregnancy can be very taxing on a woman’s body, particularly if she started out the pregnancy somewhat depleted. Sometimes women in these situations are told that their baby is measuring small for that stage of pregnancy. 
Moxa application can result in significant improvements in the baby’s growth, changes that exceed normal expectations. Women themselves also generally report feeling more energetic and increased appetite.

Breech or posterior positioned babies – It can be distressing to find out your baby is in a breech position and the range of things to try to help your baby turn can be overwhelming! The studies done with moxa have shown a significant increase (approximately 74 %) in helping babies turn into an optimal birthing position. Treatment for breech positioned babies is ideally started in the 33rd or 34th week of pregnancy, but can also be used effectively in preparation for an external version (ECV) later in pregnancy. Treatment for posterior position (back-to-back with mom) is done near the end of pregnancy at 38 or 39 weeks.

Natural Induction – Many first time mothers will go past their due date and will face a medical induction. Often this is not part of a birth plan and it’s important to know that you have options! The best treatment for going past your due date is prevention. Starting treatment in the 37th week of pregnancy will lower the incidence of going past the due date by supporting your body to prepare for labor.

Postpartum Recovery – New mothers are often surprised at how drained they are after the birth of their baby. It is a physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting experience! Mother warming is a wonderfully nurturing treatment given a few days post-birth that energizes women, aids their recovery, helps with milk supply and helps prevent postpartum depression. Mothers often express feelings of increased strength and calmer spirit and often feel very cared for.

Low milk supply – One of the biggest challenges to successful breastfeeding is low milk supply. Several days of treatment can be especially effective to promote the production of breast milk. Often the baby will be more settled within 24 hours as the milk supply increases. This can be combined with pressure to the top of the shoulder (in the knot in the shoulder) applied just as a mother commences breastfeeding to help with the let-down reflex.

If you are wondering if moxa would be good for you, please drop me a note at hello@tanyasmith.com


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