When we think of labor and delivery, nutritionally, many of us think of the snacks (or lack of snacks allowed) during the 24-ish hours of actual labor. But, let me tell you a secret....the real nutritional works begins about 8 weeks BEFORE labor. This is when you are building up your nutritional stores that will fuel the natural birth processes.
Most women are not aware of the role nutrients play in the process of labor. I want to spend the next several articles discussing the important role that nutrition plays in processes of labor.
I want to start, today, by talking about the natural biological processes of labor. By understanding HOW our body goes into labor and the natural biological changes that happen in the process, it will be easier to explain how nutrition plays a role in your natural birth goals.
Acupuncture for Labor Pain Management
For most women, the most daunting part of being pregnant, and bring a new baby into their life is the act of getting the baby out! "You want me to push that out of what!"
A mother's body is a beautiful and amazing creation that can do what seems to be an impossible feat. With that said, the process is not....well...comfortable by any means, and will test a mother's strength. As all mother's know, the moment that baby's eyes meets yours, all the pain, fear and discomfort is worth that one moment when you see your baby for the first time.
During labor, levels of beta endorphins naturally increase, allowing the mother to cope with contractions. In the case of a mother that is accepting of birth and as a normal labor and delivery, these naturally occurring endorphins are enough to ease the pain. There are reasons why a mother may not be able to cope with labor pains. In the cases of occipito-posterior positioning, stress, artificially induced labors, or labors that are long and hard, the mother's levels of endorphins may not be enough, or may have been reduced (in the case of stress.) It is in these situations that Pain Management options are requested.
Western Medicine has many pain management options, most commonly the epidural, or IV DemerolBut, there are side effects and many other things that women may not be aware of before making that decision. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for the use of medical pain management in labor. More often than not, the mother just needs some moral support and enough pain management to take the edge off. Because of this, more and more women are turning to Acupuncture/Acupressure to help them deal with labor pains more naturally. Unlike the Western Medical pain management options, there are no side effects to using Acupuncture for Labor analgesia.
Anxiety & Childbirth
Pregnancy is a normal and natural experience of life, but there are so many reason why a mother may be experiencing any degree of stress and anxiety in the months leading up to and during childbirth.
In treating acute and chronic stress and anxiety it is important to first identify the emotional or physical cause. This may include the addition of counseling with a physiologist. Often having a safe environment for women to talk through their fears is all they need.
Acupuncture & Labor Augmentation
I am often asked about how Acupuncture can help to stimulate natural labor. This is a newer application of Acupuncture for the Western World, and is beginning to gain some recognition, but it is not new in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thousands of years ago, Eastern Medicine Doctors had to have ways of stimulating labor in women who either did not spontaneously go into labor, when labor stalled or when labor was not strong enough to successfully delivery the baby. Several Acupuncture points are talked about in the literature as being effective for inducing labor or strengthening contractions. (These points are forbidden during pregnancy, with the exception of stimulating labor).
"If the fruit is not ripe, it will not fall" Proverb