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Acupuncture in the first trimester

Growing a human being, even a tiny one, is a lot of work, and in early pregnancy, many of my patients at Yinova are surprised by how exhausted they feel. They describe overwhelming tiredness that seems to roll in like a wave and then roll out again. 

In the first trimester, fewer people know about the pregnancy, and so the temptation is to carry on as normal whilst feeling strange and off-kilter. Ironically, by the time the pregnancy is visible and people are offering a seat on the subway, the pregnancy is well into the second trimester, which is often much easier. 

Fatigue is one of the main reasons people seek out acupuncture in the first trimester, along with nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, constipation, and mood swings. These are all normal symptoms in early pregnancy, and a practitioner of Chinese medicine is well-equipped to help you handle them. Acupuncture can be an excellent choice to address common pregnancy ailments safely and in a drug-free way. The needles we use at Yinova are small and hair-like, treatment is painless, and there are no adverse side effects for mother or baby. Thanks to the release of endorphins, patients often feel calm and peaceful during and after treatment, making acupuncture a good way to receive some pampering along with the other benefits. 

For most people, symptoms are mild, but acupuncture can be a great help even in cases of extreme morning sickness. A study of women hospitalized for severe pregnancy vomiting showed that acupuncture works. Researchers randomly assigned 33 women to receive acupuncture treatments at a specific point called PC6, which is on the underside of the wrist, or to receive sham acupuncture at a different location. After two days, all treatments were stopped for two days to allow any effects to dissipate. Then the groups were reversed for two more days of treatment. Before treatment, all the women were vomiting. On day three, only seven out of seventeen women (41 percent) receiving active acupuncture were still vomiting compared with 12 out of 16 (75 percent) receiving sham treatment. After the active and sham groups were switched, more women receiving active treatment stopped vomiting. Women also reported experiencing less nausea as well as vomiting. 

I needle a variety of points for patients with morning sickness and then send them home with a tiny magnet taped to their wrist at a special nausea point. For many people, this magnet is a bit of a lifeline. I once arrived at my office early one morning to find an unscheduled pregnant patient sitting on the floor outside waiting for me. Her magnet had fallen off, and she had started to feel nauseous again. She was determined to get a new one put on before work and had decided to camp out until I arrived. 

For thousands of years, doctors of Chinese medicine have combined dietary advice, herbal medicine, massage, and acupuncture as natural ways to help women have a healthy pregnancy. Acupuncturists draw on their wisdom to care for patients in the least invasive way possible. Patients, and their obstetricians and midwives, are often surprised by how effective and relevant this ancient practice really is.