Dr. Shannon Larson Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Pregnancy

 
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Pregnancy is an exciting, life changing experience that involves an extraordinary physical and emotional transformation. Taking care of one’s well-being during this time is important for both mother and baby. Acupuncture offers women a holistic drug free approach to support their pregnancy and birthing experience.

 Acupuncture can address

 

 
 

 
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Early Pregnancy Support

 

Morning Sickness

Often referred to as morning sickness, nausea and vomiting at any time of the day are common discomforts in early pregnancy. Many women can experience this as early as 5-6 weeks into pregnancy, and, for the majority, the symptoms begin to subside around the 14th to the 16th week. While specific causes for morning sickness are unknown, changing hormone and blood sugar levels are often thought to be factors. Stress and fatigue are also known to aggravate symptoms. Acupuncture can be effective in treating nausea and vomiting, by calming the sympathetic nervous system, bringing improved circulation to the digestive system, and thereby lessening the extreme spikes in hormone and blood sugar levels. Herbal medicine also offers gentle teas to soothe the digestive system.

For research further research click here

For research on safety of Acupuncture in early pregnancy click here

 

 BLEEDING AND THREATENED MISCARRIAGE:

 1 in 4 pregnancies will experience bleeding in the first trimester, which can be disconcerting for many. Without any intervention, half of these women will continue on to have healthy pregnancies. Bed rest was once the standard practice, but the current recommendation is to wait and simply avoid over-exertion. This can be an anxious time for many. While it is impossible to prevent a miscarriage due to a chromosomal abnormality, Chinese Medicine has a long history of treatment to ensure optimal health of the mother at this delicate time. Acupuncture treatments can also reduce anxiety and offer a calm space where women can feel supported.

 

MISSED MISCARRIAGE AND POST MISCARRIAGE:

 These can be difficult times filled with a mixture of emotions. When women have been diagnosed with a missed miscarriage they can choose to intervene shortly after the diagnosis; however, some choose to wait and give the the body the chance to miscarry on its own. These are all personal choices and should always be respected. For those who are choosing to wait, Chinese Medicine can be beneficial to gently support the process. Regardless whether one chooses to wait, Chinese Medicine treats the post-miscarriage time with great care. Addressing the hormonal changes, calming the mind, supporting the body, and ensuring a return to a regular and healthy menstrual cycle are all considered to be of the utmost importance to a woman’s health and wellbeing.

For a local support group click here

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Breech Presentation

Breech presentation is when the baby’s buttocks or feet, rather than the baby’s head, are presenting closest to the cervix. While it is common for babies to be in breech presentation before 28 weeks, only 7-15% remain in breech position by 32 weeks and only 3-4% by the time of birth. Currently, other than delivery by c-section, conventional medicine addresses breech presentation by a procedure called External Cephalic Version. In this procedure, mom and baby are medically monitored while an obstetrician attempts to manually turn baby into the proper position. While this procedure produces mild success rates it does come with some risks. It is, however, more successful than no intervention at all. Another option available to women is a treatment with a long tradition in Chinese medicine: moxibustion. Although limited, there is now evidence that moxibustion may increase the chances of baby turning head down before labour.

Moxibustion is a treatment is which a Chinese herb called mugwort is warmed in order to create a long-wavelength, infrared heat which is used to stimulate a specific acupuncture point. The stimulation has been known to affect maternal hormones, encouraging gentle contractions in the uterus and thereby increasing fetal activity. It is also useful to note that, compared to conventional care, no studies to date have found an increased risk of premature rupture of membranes, or of other pregnancy complications, in women receiving moxibustion.

To learn about research on breech and moxibustion click here

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Pre-birth Treatment

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(also known as Cervical Ripening)

This consists of weekly treatments beginning at week 36 or 37. Treatments are tailored to each woman’s individual constitution. Pre-birth acupuncture is different to induction treatments. Pre-birth acupuncture is done to calm the sympathetic nervous and improve blood flow to the reproductive organs. In doing so it  brings one out of the Flight or Flight response and into Rest and Digest and helps regulate hormones. During pre-birth acupuncture muscle tension and alignment can be addressed encouraging optimal fetal position. Pre-birth acupuncture supports what a women's body is already doing and helps it happen more efficiently. 

 Advantages to pre-birth treatments

  •  Softening the cervix
  • Encourage optimal fetal presentation for birth
  • Increasing energy
  • Improve stamina for labor
  • Shorter labor times
  • Reduced need for medical intervention
  • Calming and centering the mind improving the birth experience

For further thoughts on acupuncture and cervical ripening click here

For a summary of research on the benefits of pre-birth acupuncture click here

Induction

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Induction

Going into labour naturally has many great benefits for mom and baby; however, there are certain circumstances in which inducing labour may be an option that an expecting mom is considering, with the advisement of her health care provider. Acupuncture can be a very helpful tool for a women faced with these choices. While encouraging labour with acupuncture is an intervention, it offers a woman a drug-free approach that is more in line with her body’s natural hormonal initiation of labour. Although most induction treatments are done post due date, they may be considered earlier under certain medical circumstances.Whereas cervical ripening acupuncture is more passive, an induction treatment with acupuncture is done with a strong intent to encourage uterine contractions. Depending on which stage of the birth process a woman is at (she may not be in labour at all, or she may already be experiencing prodromal labour), she may start to experience cramping and uterine contractions as early as an hour after the treatment or not until 24 hours from the treatment. Some women may need more than one treatment.

 It is worth noting that, according the guidelines of our college (CTCMA), acupuncture induction treatments should be done no earlier than three to four days before the date when a Western medical induction would typically be scheduled. This is a view with which this practitioner strongly agrees. There are so many great reasons to allow time for mom and baby to initiate labour naturally. Unless there is a medical need, an expecting mom may be best set up for a positive birth outcome by simply waiting, supported by pre-birth acupuncture.

For research on labour induction with acupuncture click here