Acupuncture has been used in China and other eastern cultures to restore, promote and maintain good health and energy levels for about 2,500 years. Traditional Chinese philosophy states that our health is dependent on the body's motivating energy - known as Qi - moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin.
For any number of reasons, Qi may become unbalanced, which leads to illness. By inserting fine needles into the channels of Qi energy an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore its natural equilibrium. (and contrary to popular belief, you can hardly feel the needles!) To assess how the energies are flowing in an individual's body an acupuncturist will feel the pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. The structure, colour and coating of the tongue also give a good guide to your health.
Acupuncture is very safe to have during pregnancy and is an effective option at a time when many women choose to avoid taking medicine for minor ailments. It is essential that you choose an acupuncturist who is trained and a member of a professional body such as the British Acupuncture Council.
Many conditions which routinely crop up during pregnancy would benefit from a natural solution. Acupuncture, when provided by a trained practitioner, can give relief for a range of pregnancy related conditions:
An adjunct technique to acupuncture called moxibustion has been used for many centuries to turn breech babies. A herb called moxa is 'compacted' into a cigar shaped stick, one end of which is lit and it's slowly smoldered directly above an acupuncture point on the little toe. Research is currently underway, but previous scientific studies have found promising results for the turning of breech babies; somewhere in the region of 80% success rate.
Acupuncture can be used to help to induce labour in overdue pregnancies. It should only be used for induction when the mother has passed her due date, and then only with the consent of the obstetric team in charge of the birth. This ensures that all medical factors are taken into account and thatthe appropriate facilities are in place if the treatment is successful in encouraging the natural process to start. Acupuncture treatment can occasionally have a very rapid effect, but generally speaking it may take at least a few days to work.
During labour acupuncture is used for pain relief and to boost the mother's energy if the labour is a long one. Acupuncture can also be used to restart labour if it has slowed down or if contractions have stopped.
Acupuncture is used by new mothers to increase energy levels, to promote healing and to combat the 'baby blues'. It also is very helpful in treating mastitis.As with all healthcare treatments, it's important to find a registered and qualified practitioner. To find a practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk
BAcC practitioners are available for interview, expert comment and case histories.
If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.
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