This blog has been created by Dawn Aarons, an acupuncturist and teacher, based in Toronto, Canada. You are welcome to contact Dawn by email at email@example.com or visit her website at www.dawnaarons.com
For hundreds, even thousands of years, Chinese Medicine practitioners have used acupuncture to assist pregnant women. The Bladder Meridian is shown in this ancient drawing and has been used to treat pregnancy over all these years.
In my Toronto practice, the most common uses of the lower Bladder Points shown in the drawing include:
B67 – by the mother’s baby toe, to encourage turning from Breech position and turning from posterior position.
B60 & B62 – on the outside of the ankle, to encourage the head to descend and engage.
For more information: contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-209-8259
D came to see me for the first time last week. She is 38 years old and gave birth to her first child (a Boy!) 4 months ago. D has been committed to breastfeeding the whole time. Due to minor complications at birth, her son did not latch quickly and was given formula. Mom’s milk came in day 6-7. She came to see me hoping to get her son off formula completely. He was having one formula feed at night (at which time she would pump breastmilk) and otherwise nursing and drinking expressed breastmilk the rest of the day.
I treated D with acupuncture and asked Dr. Yuxiang Wang (www.cgicm.ca) to make her a herbal formula (the picture in this blog is of one day’s worth of herbs).
I saw D today, 6 days since we began working together and she had great news. After one day, D felt soreness and fullness in her breasts. Her milk production has been increasing steadily and last night she pumped 180ml. Before she started treatment she was pumping less than 100ml. Both mom and baby are happy and doing well. Wow!
We had a baby boy last Friday. R wouldn’t flip despite
our best efforts so he came out via scheduled c. Like you said, once
he was born safe and sound that was all that mattered. He is doing
really well, eating like a champ and sleeping well too.
Thanks so much for all of your help and support. It was a crazy week
for me leading up to his birth and I appreciate your support.
NM- Toronto, 2013
I saw NM for an acupuncture appointment in which I also showed her how to use moxibustion to help turn her baby from a breech position. Moxibustion has proven to increase the chances of a baby turning to a head down position; however, of course it does not always work. If it is successful at helping to turn the baby or not, I have found that moxibustion empowers women. They are making their best effort and eventually need to come to peace with whatever the outcome is. I always reassure women that “as long as you and your baby are healthy, you will be thrilled no matter how your baby is born”.
When Jordyn was four weeks old, her mom came for acupuncture. She was committed to breastfeeding and was not producing enough milk. After seeing a number of lactation consultants, she was set up for supplemention with feeding tubes and had tried medications. Jordyn was nursing first, and then needing to be topped up with formula offered through the tube on the breast. Mom was hopeful to increase her milk supply and stop needing to supplement. I treated her with acupuncture and also referred her to a Chinese Herbalist. In her own words:
“After one acupuncture treatment and the first day of herbs, I saw a difference. Within a week, I had a successful feeding without the need for additional supplementation. Dawn was extremely sensitive to my situation and very supportive of my objective to get off supplementation for my baby. I recommend Dawn’s acupuncture treatment to any one experiencing similar challenges with their breast milk. (CD – Toronto)”
Breastfeeding mothers benefit from a combination of acupuncture and herbal remedies to support milk production. Of course, healthy nutrition (and as much sleep as she can get) are integral components of treatments. Ask Dawn if you have any questions about how Chinese Medicine can support breastfeeding for yourself or someone you care about.
– Bethany Bechtel © 2007
Kudos to Bethany for this clear and succinct discussion of how Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are used as support for lactating women.
The needs of the breastfeeding mother
Pregnancy and childbirth require hard work from a woman’s body. In Chinese medical terms, much qi (energy) and blood is taken from the mother to support her baby. During the post-partum period a breast feeding mother must restore enough qi and blood to recover from her pregnancy and support lactation. Sufficient rest, proper hydration and nutrition are crucial during the months that follow delivery. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can provide additional support in the mother’s recovery process.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas for insufficient or absent lactation
From the point of view of the practitioner of Chinese medicine there are two major reasons for insufficient milk supply. One reason is deficient qi and blood, where the milk may be watery and the breasts not full. In such a case, acupuncture treatment can be given using points that tonify qi and blood. Moxibustion, a heat treatment, can be applied to these points in order to enhance the tonifying effect. The practitioner may also dispense formulas containing Chinese herbs known to tonify the qi and blood.
The second major reason for difficulty in lactation is qi stagnation, or obstructed flow of energy, in meridians which flow through the chest. In Western medical terms, such a blockage could be diagnosed as overactivity in the sympathetic nervous system, or what is commonly known as stress and anxiety. New motherhood, as joyful as it can be, can also produce considerable anxiousness for the mother as she adjusts to her new situation. When stressed, a woman may not produce enough prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production. Consequently, her milk supply will drop. Acupuncture can correct the situation through the treatment of points that release qi in the chest and relax the mother.
It is possible that insufficient lactation may be caused by a combination of qi and blood deficiency as well as qi stagnation. Thus, it may be necessary to use a combination of acupuncture points and herbs in order to address both causes.
Even after lactation is successfully established on-going acupuncture and herbal formulas can be quite beneficial to support the health of the mother as she continues to feed her baby.