Your Fertility and Pregnancy Questions
Here are a few common fertility and pregnancy questions, as well as real scenarios.
Q: I suffer from PCOS and haven’t had a menstrual cycle in 6 months. Is there a chance that I can still conceive?
A: Yes, there is hope. While every patient and their specific fertility and pregnancy journey is unique, let me share the story of Beth*.
Beth came to me frustrated and hopeless. She was 38 and had one son who was 3. Even though she suffered from PCOS, she hadn’t had any trouble conceiving her son. This time was different. It had been 3 months since her last cycle. After several visits with her doctor, she was basically told to give up, that she was in menopause, and could not conceive.
As you can imagine, she was devastated, but wanted to try acupuncture. She had heard it could help and felt she had nothing to lose.
She suffered from insulin resistance and candida and was overweight. In addition, her dairy intake was heavy, which contributed to inflammation and hormone fluctuations. That, too, made it harder to conceive. Inflammation doesn’t create a welcome host for an embryo. We also uncovered a great deal of stress.
Along with a treatment plan for regular acupuncture, we spent a great deal of time addressing her dietary and lifestyle habits. I regularly made recommendations for nutrition to address the inflammation and created lifestyle adjustments to help, as well.
After just two months, her menstrual cycle returned, which was a great relief to her. She surprised us both by becoming pregnant shortly thereafter.
Beth continued to see me throughout her pregnancy and welcomed a beautiful baby boy. Giving her actionable tasks kept her focused during her pregnancy on creating the healthiest environment possible for her and her baby.
*Name changed for privacy
Q: My baby is breech. Can you help?
A: You betcha. OB-GYNs routinely prescribe acupuncture for breech babies when they’re detected early enough in the third trimester (prior to week 37 yields better results).
A breech baby is one whose feet or bottom are positioned to come out first instead of the desired head-down position. Because the head is the largest part of the baby, if it comes out last it can get trapped, which can lead to birth complications. Most OBs advise a C-section if the baby is breech, so it’s worth trying to get the baby to turn if you can.
At Healing Points, we use a well-known protocol that includes acupuncture needles at strategic points and warming a point on the pinky toe using moxibustion (or moxa, essentially the mugwort herb formed into a stick that looks like a cigar).
It is recommended that the moxa protocol take place daily for 15 minutes for 5 days, reassess the position of the fetus, and then if needed for an additional 5 days. Because doing this daily is recommended, we give you moxa to take home so a friend or partner can do this for you. Of course, if you feel the baby turn, stop the treatment and ask your OB or midwife to check the baby’s position.
Various studies report success rates of up to 90%, with research papers showing that the 34th week of pregnancy is the optimal time to carry out the technique. An increase in hormonal secretions and uterine contractions, which stimulate fetal activity are the results of moxa and the beauty of it is that it is gentle, warming, and soothing.
Q: Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
A: Yes! Because acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, it has been credited for easing a wide range of pregnancy symptoms including morning sickness, lower back and pelvic pain, insomnia, heartburn, edema, constipation, sciatica, depression, joint and ligament pain, hormonal fluctuations, and more.
As mentioned above, support during pregnancy can also address increased fetal activity, which in turn can help reposition a baby from a breech position into a more delivery-friendly heads-down position.
Acupuncture can also be an invaluable part of postpartum recovery, helping with milk supply, pain relief, mood swings, healthy digestion, improved quality of sleep, skin issues, post-surgical healing, and once again recalibrating hormones as they body transitions from pregnancy through labor and delivery (more on that below).
Q: I had my beautiful baby boy 2 months ago, but I am struggling. My emotions are all over the place. A friend mentioned acupuncture. What support can you offer?
A: First of all, congratulations! What you are feeling is completely normal and we are so glad you reached out. We actually wrote an entire blog post just about this. You can find it here.
In Chinese medicine, lots of rest and care is given to the mother as she has just endured the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. Our culture is much more go-get-’em, tiger!
We are here to offer a supportive framework and nourishing roadmap for recovery and one that is customized for you. Acupuncture is one modality that can help, but we can also make nutrition recommendations, provide herbal remedies if indicated, and offer other nourishing wellness suggestions during this special time.