Acupuncture and the Journey to Motherhood

When it comes to the “journey of motherhood”, balancing yin and the yang becomes even more important. No matter what issues and history you may have — painful, irregular, absent or heavy menstrual cycle; PCOS — or if you want to increase your chances of conceiving, and/or keep yourself and baby healthy through pregnancy, labor and delivery — acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help tremendously.

Many of the acupuncture points used for the above issues are the same or used in different combinations depending upon our Chinese diagnosis and the desired outcome. Each acupuncture point has its action and effects, but when 2 or more are combined, they can have additional actions and effects as well. Points will usually change according to what day of your cycle you are on when you come in for a treatment.

Regular weekly acupuncture treatments can regulate, jumpstart or even stop your menstrual cycles. This process can take up to 3 monthly cycles or more, depending on a number of different factors such as your age and your menstrual history. The needles serve to increase blood and fluid flow in the body, breaking up any energetic “blockages” or nourishing any areas that are lacking blood and fluids. Of course, this also alleviates any PMS symptoms as well.

Though we may talk with patients about these various western “conditions” or symptoms, we don’t look at them in the same way as your western doctor. Remember, we are considering  the “whole” picture of who you are — mind, body and spirit. We always remind you — your body is malfunctioning and that this didn’t happen overnight — it took some time for the symptoms and effects to manifest and it will take time to set everything back on course.

Ideally, a normal menstrual cycle is 28-30 days with a 4-5 day medium flow of red blood that is not too dark and not too light, and devoid of clots. This is what we strive to help your body come back to — this is “balanced” in the Chinese way of looking at menses.  It’s necessary to get as close to these parameters as possible when trying to get pregnant.  The more “routine” and regular your cycle is, the easier it will be to help you facilitate conception, whether naturally or through IUI or IVF.

Once you are pregnant, regular acupuncture treatments for “mom and baby wellness” can help you stay on track and feeling good throughout your 39 weeks.  They can also help to condition your body, preparing you for the “marathon” of labor and delivery.

And one last note regarding pregnancy: remember the 4th trimester! Just because the baby has been delivered and is physically outside of you, doesn’t mean that the work is over!  It’s just changed gears, so to speak. Acupuncture is very helpful for keeping hormones regulated as they return to pre-conception levels and decreasing any feelings of depression. And now Mom has her baby who needs her for breast milk. Acupuncture can increase, decrease or stop lactation, depending on what you and baby are needing.

Yin-Yang Balancing for Optimal Health

The Chinese symbol for yin and yang has been around for many centuries and is widely recognized throughout the world. The meaning behind “yin” and “yang” however and what the symbol depicts are not as clearly understood. Since our medicine is in large part based on the principles of yin and yang, here’s a bit more information for you:

The white portion of the symbol represents Yang energy. Yang is traditionally associated with light, sun, male energy, activity/productivity, heat, and moving forward and out in the world. Yin is traditionally associated with dark, moon, female energy, rest and hibernating, cool/cold and receptivity/inward focus and passive energy.

Since we’re focusing on motherhood this month, think of the “yin” as being the 9 months of pregnancy — carrying the baby and having it grow inside of the womb, in darkness; and the “yang” is the act of labor and delivery — the dramatic and energetic pushing of the baby out into the world, into the light. You need both the yin and yang phases to give birth to a healthy baby. The same principle can be applied to any life process and any healing journey.

No matter your gender, you have yin and yang energies in your body.  When we talk about “balance” in Chinese medicine, these are the energies we are working with.  If you have too much heat or yang rising up to your head, that may be the cause of a migraine, for instance. We need to cool the heat (calm the excess yang) and bring it back down. At the same time, we don’t want to put out the fire all together — we need that yang energy; it just needs to be in check and not flaring up and out of control.  An over-abundance of yin energy on the other hand would present as cool or cold in the body — we need to warm the channel and organ associated with the root issue.

The needles can serve to nourish the deficiency and calm the excess energy. This is a very simplified version of how we are able to help your body to come back into balance — and this is what drives up the cellular function and heals at the root level.

In the visual symbol of the Yin and Yang, you notice that the white and black are separate but connected in a circle; the white part always has a black dot in it and likewise, the black portion always has a white dot. This illustrates how the opposites need each other to be fully functioning and whole — and how even the yang has a little bit of yin and the yin has a little bit of yang. The two energies are interdependent.