So we find ourselves fast approaching that big date, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying to block out stories of PAIN!!! TORTURE!!! ANNIHILATION!!! told with knowing smiles or via birthing videos from the late 80’s shown in antenatal ‘you’re freaking me out’ classes (this is just my personal experience – I’m sure most antenatal classes are up with the times).
‘Trust your body,’ I’m telling myself… ‘we’re built for this!’ The hypnobirthing advocates say childbirth can be pain free – pleasurable even (I like their way of thinking), but you know it never hurts to have some secret weapons up your sleeve because, let’s face it, I’m thinking at the least this is probably going to be a little uncomfortable. Not to mention any complications that can arise – labour that’s slow to progress, baby in posterior position… So, Acupuncture… how can it help?
Acupuncture and Acupressure have been used for thousands of years for, well, pretty much everything, and so it goes for well, everything, preparation and prevention is key. Babies in breech position can often be turned using an easy, pain-free treatment with moxibustion, completed by the mum-to-be at home any time from week 34, and the earlier you start the better the success rate. And to get the final party started, weekly Acupuncture treatments from week 37 (the last four weeks of your pregnancy) are fantastic for preparing the pelvis and cervix for birth.
As we get closer to your ‘due date’, we up-the-ante and start pumping points that move and descend the Qi (energy) in the body and stimulate Oxytocin – one of those magic hormones that amongst other things is the primary initiator of uterine contractions. I like to think of it like this, in Chinese Medicine they say that when the melon is ripe, it will fall from the vine, and we’re just giving that vine a nice little shake! Having Acupuncture for birth preparation helps encourage baby to come on time, and midwives report that women often have more efficient labours that require less medical interventions when they have undergone Acupuncture prior to childbirth.
The use of Acupressure during labour can be a wonderful way of addressing any number of issues that may arise, as certain acupoints help aid cervical dilation, encourage the descent of the baby into the birth canal, assist in turning baby for optimal positioning, and the big one… PAIN RELIEF. Many mums have found Acupressure great for helping manage the pain of contractions, with the kind assistance of their ever faithful, do-anything-to-help birth partners. Acupressure points can be used in isolation or incorporated into a massage, but most importantly should feel helpful and comfortable (see your local Acupuncturist for some ideas).
None of us first-timers know how we are going to react in labour, what will help and how we’ll cope, but one thing I do know for sure – it never hurts to be prepared!!
Tanya Kane is a Chinese Medicine Practitioner who at the time of writing is 30 weeks pregnant and planning a pain-free, highly pleasurable (why not!?) birthing experience that defies gravity, and frankly, all laws of physics. Tanya offers Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for fertility, pregnancy, and everything either side.