Acupuncture to help labour when your waters have broken

Acupuncture to help labour when your waters have broken

 

“Acupuncture is a method with few side effects that supports the natural birthing process”

“The main finding of this study is that acupuncture treatment resulted in a significantly shorter active phase of labor”

When your waters break naturally, labour doesn’t always follow.

Researchers in Norway have found that acupuncture may help women whose waters have broken naturally:

  • It led to shorter labour duration
  • Women who needed induction needed less oxytocin
  • Active labour was 50% shorter in duration for women who had acupuncture and were induced

 

The study in detail

In Australia, the recommendation is usually to wait for up to 48 hours, and then induce labour if it hasn’t started naturally. In the hospital in this Norwegian study, the recommendation is 24 hours and then induction.

The researchers asked women to join the study when they came to the hospital after their waters had broken. They split the women into two groups – an acupuncture group and a control group.

Here’s what they found:

  •  “Acupuncture shortened the time from PROM [premature rupture of membranes] to delivery”*
  •  “Women who received acupuncture during the first 24 h after PROM had a significantly shorter duration of labor
  • “The use of acupuncture leads to a significant reduction in the need of oxytocin“**
  • “Those in the acupuncture group who had an induction got through the active phase of birth in half the time compared to those who were induced in the control group”
  • No adverse effects of acupuncture were found in relation to delivery outcome”

 

“The other main findings in our study were that women in the acupuncture group needed significantly less oxytocin to stimulate contractions during labor… and that the induced women in the study group got through the active phase of labor in half the time compared to those who were induced in the control group”

The study authors discuss the reasons why acupuncture may help to promote efficient labour after breaking of waters:

  • Acupuncture has been shown to help ripen the cervix when given as a prenatal treatment (usually weekly for a few weeks)
  • Acupuncture can raise a mother’s level of prostaglandins – hormones involved with cervix ripening
  • Previous studies have shown that acupuncture can shorten the active phase of labour
  • Other researchers have found that acupuncture given on the due date (and every second day after) can shorten the time until delivery
  • Previous researchers who found acupuncture led to a shorter active phase of labour suggest that it may enhance natural oxytocin in the mother, and this fits with the current study that found women in the acupuncture group needed less oxytocin if they were induced

 

“Other randomized trials have already shown that acupuncture results in a significant reduction of labor pain… and WHO [World Health Organisation] mentions acupuncture as a nonpharmacological method to use during labor.”

 

“Ideally, acupuncture treatment should be offered to all women with PROM, and other pregnant women who wish to use this method, in order to facilitate their birth and keep it normal.”

 


* All bold text in quotes is added
** Oxytocin is the drug given to stimulate contractions during induction

Gaudernack LC, Forbord S, Hole E. Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin. A randomized controlled trial. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. 2006;85(11):1348-1353. doi:10.1080/00016340600935839
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Ear infections and glue ear in children

Ear infections

 

Ear infections are common in infants and children.

Many parents turn to natural medicine to help their children with ear infections and glue ear. In one study, it was found that nearly half of the children aged 1-7 years old had used Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for recurrent ear infections during the previous six month period (1).

Western medicine says children are prone to ear infections due to their anatomy (a straighter Eustachian tube linking the nose and throat to the ears), exposure to irritants like passive smoke and frequent upper respiratory infections, especially for children who go to day care. There may be other factors that make some children more likely to have ear infections than others.

Chinese medicine explains ear infections by talking about the unique environment of the child’s body.

 

The challenge faced by all infants

All infants and young children have vulnerable digestive systems.

A baby needs to double its birth weight in the first six months of life. All a baby can “eat” in this time is milk. The digestive system must work hard to assimilate and transform the milk to send nutrients and energy (Qi or “chi”) to all parts of the growing baby’s body.

It’s easy for the digestive system to become overloaded.

When the digestive system isn’t transforming nutrients on time, there’s a build-up. A backlog. Like an engine that isn’t firing cleanly in its cylinders, gunk can build up instead of being used right away as fuel.

Gunk can linger in certain body areas. Gunk loves to linger in the throat, nose, lungs, tummy and ear.

This gunk creates stickiness, and this stickiness slows down energy flow.

Energy needs to flow to all parts of the body at all times to defend against outside influences. When the energy isn’t flowing to the ear at the time that it’s needed, then the outside world can impact the ear.

 

The focus of Chinese medicine

So in Chinese medicine, we do have an idea of “germs” or pathogens causing disease. But we focus much more on the “host” than on the “germs”.

We focus our attention on the health of the child. We work to make the child stronger, so that they can resist disease in the future.

We help the body to learn, or to remember, how to defend against disease.

Helping a child to overcome an acute ear infection revolves around:

  • helping them to feel comfortable and relieving pain
  • resolving stickiness that leads to faster recovery and less discomfort
  • stimulating the body to heal itself

 

About inflammation

In Western medicine, “inflammation” is often thought of as a bad thing. However, this view is beginning to change. Scholars are now considering that inflammation is part of the immune response, and therefore it must serve a good purpose.

In Chinese medicine, we say the redness and warmth are called “Heat”.

The body is sending a lot of energy to the area. It is trying to send its intelligence there to fight off the outside influence and to help that body part to recover, to feel good and to function properly.

But the energy is not getting through. There’s a blockage.

What is the blockage? The gunk!

So there’s “Heat” – redness, swelling, warmth and pain – because the body is smart. It knows energy is needed there, and it keeps sending more. It’s just that the gunk isn’t letting it through.

So we want to direct this energy towards healing, to show it the way. We want to lead the energy to where it’s needed.

We use acupuncture, massage, heat therapy, herbal drops, diet therapy, herbal medicine and other tools to shift the gunk and let the intelligence-energy flow to the ear so the body can heal itself.

 

Long-term prevention

Antibiotics are a modern marvel and they save lives when used appropriately. The downside of antibiotics for ear infections, from a Chinese medicine perspective, is that they tend to be great at clearing “Heat” but do nothing to shift gunk. (And in fact, because they upset the delicate balance of the gut flora, it’s possible that they challenge the digestive system and there is more gunk created as a result.)

When making a decision for your own health or for your child’s health, you need to get all the information and weigh up the risks and benefits. Sometimes a decision is imperfect because there may be side effects, but it can still be the best decision for the circumstances.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, keeping the child free from recurrent ear infections requires a longer-term view. It’s about ensuring that more gunk doesn’t get created. It’s also about looking for other ways that the energy may be not flowing smoothly, and helping it to be smooth again.

This may involve acupuncture treatments, diet changes, use of heat on acupoints at home, self-massage, Chinese herbal medicine or other natural interventions.

It’s a good idea to include your child’s doctor so that they know what you are doing and so that you have a team of people around your family, helping you to become healthy and stay healthy.

 

Watching and waiting

For simple ear infections, the recommended strategy in Western medicine is to “watch and wait” for a couple of days. Doctors are urged to reduce antibiotic use – firstly to avoid bugs becoming resistant in the whole population, but also because antibiotics can harm the delicate gut flora and may create longer-term problems.

If you can step in with natural care during the “watch and wait” period, it’s a great way to be proactive and to give your child’s body a chance to learn how to heal.

 


 

If you’d like to know how I can help you with your child’s health issues, please feel free to book a 15-minute Free Consultation where we can discuss their history and I can share with you the strategies I would recommend for you.

 

 


References

(1) Levi JR, Brody RM, McKee-Cole K, Pribitkin E, O’Reilly R. Complementary and alternative medicine for pediatric otitis media. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 2013;77(6):926-931. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.03.009
(2) Marom T, Marchisio P, Tamir SO, Torretta S, Gavriel H, Esposito S. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatment Options for Otitis Media. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(6). doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000002695
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Acupuncture safety

Acupuncture safety lotus

 

Acupuncture is generally considered a very safe treatment.

All health procedures carry some risk, and some risks may depend on an individual patient’s circumstances (eg age, gender, illness or other health factors).

Before you start your acupuncture treatment, we will explain the risks to you and allow you to make an informed decision to proceed. We will also check in with you throughout your course of treatment that you are feeling comfortable and provide answers or responses to any questions or concerns you may have.

 

Research on acupuncture safety

Several very large-scale studies involving many tens of thousands of professional acupuncture treatments have found that acupuncture is generally well tolerated and, if side effects happen, they tend to be relatively minor – for example tiredness, bruising or dizziness. (1-3)

 

Qualified practitioners

It is important to receive acupuncture from well-trained health professionals who understand the risks and how to minimise them. Working near vulnerable areas of the body requires special techniques and precautions, so please ensure that your therapist is adequately qualified.

Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners (listed on the AHPRA website) have met the appropriate education standards.

 

Acupuncture in pregnancy

Acupuncture is generally considered safe in pregnancy.

Qualified practitioners understand how to modify acupuncture treatment for pregnancy and to avoid certain areas of the body or specific acu-points due to their therapeutic actions.

A recent review concluded that if adverse effects do occur during acupuncture in pregnancy, they seem to be minor and transient (of the type noted above) and occurance is similar across all trimesters of pregnancy. (4)

 

Free consultation

If you would like to discuss your unique health situation and ask any questions you may have about acupuncture safety, please request your 15-minute Free Consultation to find out more.

 


 

(1) White A, Hayhoe S, Hart A, Ernst E. Adverse events following acupuncture: prospective survey of 32,000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. BMJ. 2001;323:485–6.

(2) Macpherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ. 2001;323:486–7.

(3) Witt CM, Pach D, Brinkhaus B, Wruck K, Tag B, Mank S, Willich SN. Safety of acupuncture: results of a prospective observational study with 229,230 patients and introduction of a medical information and consent form. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009;16:91–7.

(4) Clarkson C, O’Mahony D, Jones D. Adverse event reporting in studies of penetrating acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015 May;94(5):453-64.

 

Photo by Ahmed Saffu on Unsplash
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Menopause, mid-life and meaning

Menopause autumn

 

Are you approaching menopause? Already there?

In our culture – in the developed, English-speaking world – menopause is becoming increasingly medicalised… symptoms and hormones and treatments.

The medical narrative around menopause has become so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that we don’t even see it, like a fish not seeing the water it’s swimming in.

There’s a different way of seeing this phase of life.

In other places in the world, menopause is experienced as simply a time of change, or freedom, a phase of self-reflection and evolving self-esteem, a phase of life marked by being respected due to attaining wisdom, a feeling of cleanliness and attaining maturity, a time to experience fulfilment or success (1).

 

Turning the corner

According to Chinese medicine, and Hunyuan medicine in particular, menopause is a turning point.

Nature creates in cycles. From small cycles such as the heartbeat or breath, through ever larger of day and night, seasons, lifetimes, to cycles beyond the human experience such as geological epochs – the way that something opens out, and then closes back in, is a common pattern.

 

Beginnings

From resting quietly at night, you dream before dawn and then awaken and move into the world in the morning.

From the fallow and stillness of winter, seedlings and buds appear and grow.

From the secluded mystery of the womb, babies are born, emerging into the world.

From the hidden, something becomes revealed. This is the beginning of the visible part of the creation cycle.

 

Full expression

In the middle of the day, you are active and engaged with the outside world, eating and drinking to bring energy in from “the outside”.

In the summer, the leaves on the trees are fully open and engaging with the sunlight “outside” to create energy for the tree.

From childhood and teen years, marked by the “Yang” expression of growth and differentiation, a person reaches their reproductive capacity in adulthood. Their life cycle can exchange with the “outside” by participating in the creation of new life.

This phase is maximally engaged and exchanging with the “outside”.

 

The return

Then we come to the afternoon, closing in to the evening. You return home from the day, you shed your “mask” of your work life or other roles in society, and you nurture yourself and settle down in preparation for the recharging and replenishment of the night phase.

For the tree, it now divests it’s energy from the leaves. That exchange with the “outside” has run its course. The sap turns inwards, flowing down towards the root. It’s a reversal of direction.

After the child-bearing years, this “Yang” impetus for growth and connecting “outside” has similarly run its course. Now the “Yin” phase begins. Moving towards the root, towards the source…

 

Menopause yin yang

 

The hidden

Going into sleep, your idea of “action in the world” must become very small. You must let go. Let go and yield into the mystery, where there is no “I”, there is no “this” and “that”. When you wake in the morning, you will feel refreshed. Where did this energy come from? If you try to watch, you’ll miss it! You can only gain this energy by “not being there”. By allowing the movement of the Heart-mind, the sense of “I”, to become very small. The energy comes from what we call the “internal connection”. The very nature of this connection is hidden.

For the tree, bare branches on the outside, snow on the ground, energy underground, hidden in the root.

For the human, the mystery of old age.

This “hidden” phase of nature is a part of all the cycles. It is the source, the root, the beginning and end and continuation.

 

Our culture

Our science is explicity based on the “visible”, the “seen”, the “knowable”. Our science hasn’t yet included this hidden phase into a cyclical understanding of nature.

Perhaps linked with this, our culture venerates youth and achievement and growth and productivity. The “Yang” phase.

We lack a view, a language, a love and appreciation of the whole other side of the cycle. From the top-most point of exchange with the “outside”, the return to the root is often expressed as a decline, a decay, somewhat almost as a failure.

 

Do you feel this?

It’s time for a new narrative. More accurately, it’s time to reclaim an old narrative, an ancient story.

Here’s the question to contemplate – at “midday” you are giving to the world in terms of your speech and actions. You are also bringing in something – external energy in the form of food and drink. Combined with the external energy from breath and then from the “internal connection” of sleep, you can have another day, another cycle. Bringing in from nature, connecting, replenishing, then expressing your form outwardly. The same cycle repeats, again and again.

So in terms of the cycle of your whole lifespan, at menopause you are in autumn. No longer growing towards the outside, now changing course, energy heading within.

What is coming along with that movement, from the outside?

The tree has generated energy through photosynthesis, bringing this back to nourish the root.

What are you bringing back?

Knowledge? Experience? Wisdom? Self-awareness? Appreciation?

 

The “Sandwich Generation”

Maybe at this time of your life you’ve got teenagers to care for, or grandchildren, alongside working and ensuring your nest egg will see you through retirement, alongside caring for ageing parents… a lot of energy being used on the “outside”.

This is the challenge for women in our culture who are in the menopause phase of life. More people to care for now than ever before, or more intense caring, coupled with an ancient biological imperative to turn inwards.

Could this be the start of some of these “symptoms” that we pathologise as an inevitable part of the menopause experience?

And if so, then how to reframe, so that the challenges of this phase of life do not overwhelm you?

 

The jigsaw puzzle

Each one of us is a jigsaw puzzle. There’s no simple answer to these kinds of questions.

However, the questions are important.

If these questions resonate with you, and you would like to explore a more wholesome, nurturing journey through your menopause years, then I’d be delighted to talk to you and let you know what I can offer.

You can request a 15-minute free consultation or contact me to book an initial consultation and treatment.

 


Reference

(1) Doubova, SV, C. Infante-Castañeda, C, Martinez-Vega, I, Pérez-Cuevas, R. Toward healthy aging through empowering self-care during the climacteric stage. Climeractic. 2012;15:563-572.

Other resources

Rita Charon, MD. Narrative Medicine: A Model for Empathy, Reflection, Profession, and Trust. JAMA. 2001;286(15):1897-1902.

Befus D, Coeytaux RR, Goldstein KM, McDuffie JR, Shepherd-Banigan M, Goode AP, Kosinski A, Van Noord MG, Adam SS, Masilamani V, Nagi A, Williams JW Jr. Management of menopause symptoms with acupuncture: An umbrella systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Image credit: Antonio Grosz on Unsplash

 

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Can acupuncture help with IVF?

Acupuncture for IVF

 

Many women contact the clinic after hearing about acupuncture helping to improve IVF outcomes, whether having done their own research or having been recommended by their fertility specialist.

 

When can acupuncture help?

Women usually hear about how acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer (ET) can help improve success rates, as this has been the focus of much of the research. Studies are still being conducted to look at different methods and timing to see how acupuncture can help alongside IVF.

I prefer to work with women (and couples) during the lead-up to the transfer, and then beyond – especially during the anxiety-producing “two-week wait” – until results are known.

 

How can acupuncture help?

During the lead-up to the transfer, there is a lot going on – emotionally and physically.

If you’re in a medicated cycle, then you are dealing with blood tests, scans, injections and side effects. Acupuncture may be able to help with some of the side effects that you’re experiencing.

In both medicated and non-medicated cycles, such as FETs (frozen embryo transfers), there is often a lot of mental to-and-fro. Many women have normal thoughts, worrying about what if the the cycle doesn’t work, and then they stress about having these “negative” thoughts, hoping that the IVF process isn’t being negatively affected. They then feel anxious to “do positive thinking”. It can be really exhausting.

Acupuncture can help with symptoms of anxiety, and I believe that this is acupuncture’s main contribution to helping women who are going through the IVF process.

Your acupuncture session is your time. During the consultation you’ll debrief, reframe some worries and reclaim your centre. Then it’s time to simply receive. This is your time to enjoy acupuncture’s deep relaxation effects. Women often come out of their acupuncture session feeling refreshed and grounded.

 

Help for partners

Partners can benefit from acupuncture too. Fertility clinics often don’t address the experience of the partner, but this role certainly has its own stresses and challenges. When both partners are feeling relaxed and grounded, then you’re better able to support one another.

 

How often should I come?

Women normally come in once a week during the lead-up and after the transfer. If you’re particularly stressed or are feeling unwell with side effects, then twice a week may be more appropriate.

For the day of transfer, I usually suggest a session the evening before (because most clinics have early morning procedures) and then during the day after your transfer. At my clinic we have three practitioners available so you can normally book your sessions no matter what day your transfer will be.

 

Working with your innate biological intelligence

When body and mind are relaxed then we say “the Qi flows”. Qi is the flow of intelligence that perfectly integrates the continual unfolding of billions of changes within your body, moment by moment, day and night. It is what flows to a hurt area to stimulate healing, or self-correction.

Focusing on Qi, body-mind, relaxation and self-healing is the power and simplicity of Chinese medicine.

 

For bookings or more information

Please get in touch to make your booking or to find out how acupuncture can help you.

Alternatively you can request a 15-minute Free Consultation at the clinic to find out how I can support your unique situation.

 

 

 


Hullender Rubin LE, Anderson BJ, Craig LB. Acupuncture and in vitro fertilisation research: current and future directions. Acupuncture in Medicine. 2018;36(2):117-122. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011352
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

 

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