OK, this one’s for the women out there who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.
Choosing your health team
First, choose an OB who you are comfortable with – i.e you can talk with easily and who listens to what you say. There are many other things to consider, and good advice abounds on the web, so have a look around. WebMD and the March of Dimes are two sites that I recommend. And speaking of recommendations, a local OB that I highly respect is Lisa Johnson at the Women’s Clinic P. C. here in Portland.
Who else should you recruit for your support team? Every mother and every pregnancy is different, so there is no standard answer to this question. Some mothers enlist the help of a doula. Some a massage therapist. Some a midwife. Some an acupuncturist.
Acupuncture and my pregnancy
What does acupuncture have to offer? To start with, and speaking from personal experience, an acupuncture session can be about the most relaxing experience you can imagine. I looked forward to my regular appointments so much! Luckily, I didn’t have many specific symptoms that needed treatment, but the fatigue and stress of daily life are somehow intensified by pregnancy. Finding someone to help me with these was really important. Thanks, Emily; thanks, Brandon (now in Wisconsin – how is the badger state?).
In my practice I have treated patients for just about every pregnancy-related condition you can imagine, from morning sickness and lower back pain to nasal congestion and numbness in the hands (due to edema, temporary carpal tunnel syndrome can arise.) I recommend early treatment to help with nausea – the sooner it is treated, the better. And, I’ve found that although ginger is helpful for some, for others it makes nausea worse. So in addition to acupuncture, I find myself sharing from the cupboard of take-home tips.
When and how often should appointments be scheduled? This depends entirely on the individual patient. Some I see weekly from the very beginning, some only when a need arises. Like maybe sleeping isn’t as easy as it should be, or leg cramps are a problem, or it’s time for the 20-week ultrasound, or, well, whatever. I’ve treated mothers whose babies were in breech position (the best time to move the baby is 34-37 weeks), and when mothers have come full term, I have helped stimulate contractions. So I’m ready to help at any point, from conception to contraction, so to speak. I used to offer birth support, too, but with my own baby at home now, my schedule isn’t as flexible as it once was. All mothers will understand that!
An unexpected delight
At some point during treatment – I can’t say exactly when – I become aware of the baby as a person. I know all along that the intention of my treatment is to help the mother and the baby, but even so, there’s this moment when I sense the baby. Its pulse can sometimes be felt hovering around the mother’s. (In case you’re new to Chinese medicine, the pulse here is something more than you’re used to thinking of.) And right away I get this sense of connection with a new human being.
Now, I don’t consider myself an overly emotional person, but I have to say that when a mother first introduces me to her newborn baby, I am overpowered by a sense of . . . of what? Connection. Joy. Wonder. Motherhood.