Last Thursday I had the pleasure to talk to the ladies of the Tokyo Pregnancy Group (TPG) about pregnancy and acupuncture. This was my second time talking to the group and it was really nice to see some familiar faces. The group was a lot bigger than last time. Perhaps 17 or so participants ranging from locations all over the world. One momma was even pregnant with twins! Many of the participants had chosen to give birth with Dr. Sakamoto but a select few were with their regional doctors or with Niseki Hiroo.
My lecture covered many of the same points I usually talk about when explaining how the art of acupuncture can help new mommies and their babies during and after pregnancy. Here is a brief summary of my speech:
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK
Acupuncture utilises the bodies natural energy, chi, blood, water and air to help the body heal. Eastern medical theory states that a person who follows the rules of nature, eats healthy and exercises will live a long, healthy life. It also states that a healthy body will automatically realign and self correct itself.
Japanese acupuncture diverged from Chinese acupuncture during the Meiji period when acupuncture was restricted as a job for the blind. This lead to a more hands on and subtle practice.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY PREGNANCY?
Healthy weight gain for mum and baby varies according to country, minimal morning sickness between the 6th and 14th week, minimal edema, a healthy lifestyle with lots of sleep, regular exercise, minimal stress, good diet, spiritual and mental solidarity and above all listen to your heart, your baby and your doctor!
WHAT IS A UN-HEALTHY PREGNANCY?
Above/below average weight gain (mum and baby), prolonged morning sickness, edema, poor stools (constipation and/or diarrhoea), breech, placenta previa, vitamin deficiency, dizziness, headaches, etc.
WHAT IS ACU PREGNANCY?
Acupuncture can help your pregnancy be happy, healthy and energised, it also helps the body to process and utilise water (no more water retention!), it restores a healthy, warm and vibrant constitution, it can help to relieves back pain, morning sickness and cold symptoms. Acupuncture has an extremely high success rate in turing breech babies and it helps the baby to grow healthy and full of energy
When: You can get acupuncture from week 1 until the birth of your child.
Duration: We recommend treatment once a week until the 12th week to help you and the baby graduate to the second trimester safely. If you and your baby are in good health than you will graduate from treatment until the 36th week of pregnancy. We recommend coming in from the 36th week in order to prepare your body for a safe and fast delivery. If you and/or your baby are in bad health (see UN-HEALTHY Pregnancy) than we suggest coming in once a week, or more, as needed until symptoms are remedied.
IF YOUR BABY IS IN BREECH please come in as soon as possible. Acupuncture boosts very high success rates when treatment is received between 3 to 5 times in close proximity. It is important to come in as soon as you know you’re in breech!! Usually women find out around the 28th week.
WHAT IS AN ACU BIRTH?
Acupuncture helps to endure labor, endure a smooth and quick labor, softens and readies mums body for delivery, prepares the body for a `good birth`, helps the body to prepare and recover from c-sections
When: Please come in from the 36th week until birth.
Duration: Once a week until birth
Breech: Come in as soon as you know you’re in breech!!
WHAT IS ACU POSTNATAL? MUM
Acupuncture helps to close the cervix after birth and replenishes the bodies energy stores. It also helps to promote good lactation.
When: From birth until the body recovers.
Duration: Once a week until the body recovers.
Good health: 2 to 3 treatment.
Bad health: Once a week, or more, as needed until symptoms are remedied.
One of the points I had the most questions about was weight gain. In fact, I talk to many mothers who feel overly pressured by their Japanese doctors to diet while pregnant. While I do not recommend going against your western medical doctors suggestions I often feel and felt while I was pregnant that 10kg, the current acceptable weight gain max in Japan, is not practical for many women. I know many women who have gained 15 to 20kg during pregnancy only to lose it the week after birth.
My best bit of advice on this subject is to stay healthy by walking every day, eat healthy by staying away from sweets and junk food and go to sleep early. Your body will take care of the rest so I wouldn’t stress to much about being somewhat above average. On the opposite note, I do not think that it is healthy to gain over 20kg during pregnancy. Most women who gain this much find it very difficult to lose the weight after birth and also have a higher statistical rate of getting diabetes during pregnancy.
Heather Maya Suzuki