Acupuncture and the relief of morning sickness, nausea, vomiting and heartburnduring pregnanacy
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is also known as “morning sickness” although it may occur at any time, day or night. These symptoms can be experienced as early as the first late period and, for some, will persist until the final weeks of pregnancy. Between the sixth and twelfth week is the most common time for these symptoms to be treated with acupuncture.
Acupuncture is used to help women eliminate nausea, acid reflux, heartburn, stop vomiting and most importantly, prevent dehydration. Excessive vomiting, or hyperemesis, can decrease electrolyte levels and be accompanied by dehydration. Acupuncture treatment should be avoided if a woman is dehydrated during pregnancy.
Western Medicine discusses nausea and vomiting to be due to hormone changes, fatigue, poor diet, stress and other emotional disturbances.
According to Chinese Medicine, the vessel that regulates blood flow to the uterus during menstruation is now directed to nourish the fetus. The changes that occur in this vessel are the reason for the imbalance of qi flow. The Chinese viewpoint of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is due to rebellious qi. “Rebellious” in this text refers to the movement against the proper flow and direction. This upward movement causes stomach qi to rise, resulting in nausea and vomiting. The stomach receives food and water, carries out the “rottening and ripening” or digestion and sends impure substances down toward the small intestines, while pure qi from food is sent to the lungs. Interference with this descending flow may also lead to heartburn.
Acupuncture can restore the downward flow of qi and regulate the changes that occur during these weeks to support changes in the body. As with any illness or imbalance, there are other factors involved when obtaining a diagnosis and treatment plan. When treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, a consultation must be conducted to determine the best treatment for the individual. Overall, treatment specifically for nausea and vomiting should be consistent for 2 weeks and repeated as needed.
Patients are recommended to rest. If possible, designate time away from work and family when the nausea is the worst. The body never lies and tiredness indicates the body’s needed rest. An earlier than usual bedtime is suggested.
Patients will receive dramatic improvement if accompanied by regular fluid and food intake. Dehydration can lead to the onset of nausea and may exacerbate the sick feeling. If a patient has no appetite or thirst, very small snacks and sipping water or soup is recommended to maintain hydration and balanced blood sugar levels.
Beneficial foods and fluids for pregnancy with nausea and vomiting:
Vegetable and chicken broths
Won Ton soup
Ginger tea (max 3 cups per day)
Raisins and nuts
Pasta, bread and rice
Foods to be avoided or eaten in moderation:
Highly seasoned, rich, fatty foods
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