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Guest blogger Erin Legare-Tremblay is a Registered Acupuncturist and a Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in Calgary, Alberta. She has offered our readers this Quick Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine During Pregnancy. 
Even as a practitioner, I feel that navigating all the different health modalities is difficult. So here is a quick guide to the ways Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used when you are pregnant:

Optimal Health

TCM sees pregnancy as a great time to optimize congenital health and each month is associated with a different meridian. This is something I am only starting to explore, but there are different theories on how to increase the health of the baby by doing different treatments each month.

You can also use some fundamental nutrition ideas of TCM to optimize health and help with symptoms like indigestion. I recommend throwing aside the raw salads and cold smoothies in favour of warm elixir drinks and warm cooked foods with warming herbs like turmeric and cinnamon.

Replacing the Herbs and Medications You Can’t Take During Pregnancy

As the list of things to not take while pregnant continues to grow, acupuncture can be used as a safe alternative for medications and herbs you may have needed before, but can’t take right now. For example, with allergies and colds you can avoid the medications and use acupuncture.

Morning Sickness

In TCM, morning sickness is a disharmony between two of the extraordinary meridians (Ren and Chong). You can use acupuncture as well as food modifications to reduce nausea. For some people acupuncture will offer amazing relief and for some it may not be as effective. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or anything wrong with the practitioner. It seems that for some people only time helps.

Pain

I have noticed there is often an assumption that pregnancy related pain, like hip pain, just has to be endured. Acupuncture can be a very nice reprieve from this pain. It may require regular treatments for the rest of the pregnancy, as often the pain will re-establish since baby is still there, but it can offer very lovely relief.

Relaxation

Acupuncture can be deeply relaxing. This is actually one of the reasons I wanted to become an acupuncturist; because I loved the way it made me feel relaxed and floaty afterwards. I have actually had appointments where the person fell asleep while I was still putting needles in! It isn’t just needles either, ear seeds can be used to help continue the relaxation after you head home.

Breech Presentation

Most of the studies I have seen put the effectiveness of TCM in turning breech babies at above 80%. The most common method is moxibustion. A stick of Ai Ye (mugwort) is lit and held comfortable close to the corner of the baby toe. A stick is usually sent home with the person to continue treatments until baby turns.

Induction and Birth Prep

These are some of the most fun treatments to do and involve using non-invasive points on the arms and legs to increase oxytocin, promote cervical ripening and support the body readying for labour. Birth preparation can begin at 36 weeks and induction at 39 weeks. Acupuncture will not force the body into labour before it is ready and generally 1-4 treatments are needed.

After induction treatments people have told me their blood pressure returned to normal (in cases of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia), they were able to prevent an intervention they didn’t want, or even that it was their easiest birth so far.

If any of this leaves you with any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Erin at: erinlegare-tremblay@premahealth.ca. You can visit her at Prema Health conveniently located on Uptown 17 at 1429 17 Avenue SW in Calgary. Prema Health also offers prenatal yoga and other services. To learn more about Erin’s passion for working with pregnant people you can see her previous guest post Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pregnancy.
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