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The Benefits of Acupuncture During Pregnancy and Postpartum

By Dr. Shari Auth, Co-Founder of WTHN

Acupuncture can help women through every stage of their lives, from PMS to menopause. Acupuncture not only helps with fertility, but it can help you throughout your pregnancy, during the postpartum period, and adjusting to life as a new mom.

What are the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy?

Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to relieve common symptoms at every stage of your pregnancy journey. Here at WTHN, we recommend weekly or bi-weekly acupuncture sessions to feel your best during this life-changing time. 

Here are some ways that acupuncture can help during pregnancy:

  • During the 1st Trimester - Research demonstrates that acupuncture can relieve nausea and improve mood, as well as boost energy and relieve constipation.

  • During the 2nd trimester - Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture is a safe way to relieve common aches and pains, such as back pain, as well as help improve sleep.

  • During the 3rd trimester - Acupuncture is a great way to prepare your body for labor, and it can also help encourage labor for clients past their due date. Acupuncture has also been an effective way to help flip a baby when it’s breeched.

What is the upside to acupuncture during the postpartum period?

After the baby arrives, acupuncture can help new moms with postpartum depression and it can also help support milk flow and breastfeeding.

  • Postpartum Depression - Studies have shown that acupuncture is as effective as Prozac in treating depression but without the negative side effects. Best of all, it’s safe and natural for new moms. Acupuncture helps alleviate depression by increasing the body’s “happy” hormones, serotonin and dopamine. It specifically treats PPD by increasing oestradiol levels and treats chronic depression by restoring glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a neuroprotective protein that can be depleted in those suffering from depression. Acupuncture also comes with lots of positive side effects like more energy and better sleep.

Can acupuncture help with milk production?

Acupuncture has been shown in scientific studies to increase milk production in breastfeeding women. In addition, acupuncture can also support breastfeeding women. One study found that women receiving acupuncture breastfed their babies longer!

DIY Acupressure For New Moms!

Sometimes the hardest time to make it in for acupuncture is when you need it the most, like when you have a newborn at home. Here are some great acupressure points you can do on yourself to lift your spirits and increase milk supply after giving birth:

For PPD:

Du 20:

Take your thumbs to the top of your ears and then let your fingers connect at the top of your head, this point is DU 20, located at the top of your head. When stimulated, DU 20 helps to lift depression. Using your fingers apply medium pressure to this point and take 10 deep breaths. Slowly release to feel lifted and lighter. Repeat as needed.

Liver 3:

Located in the web between the big toe and the first toe, Liver 3 will help to keep your emotions flowing in a positive direction. This point is great for stress and depression. Place your finger in the valley of the web and press downward into the point with medium pressure. Then rotating your fingers in a clockwise direction while taking ten deep breaths. Repeat as needed.

To Increase Breastmilk Supply:

Small Intestine 1 and Ren 17 have shown in scientific studies to increase breastmilk supply.

Small Intestine 1:

Located on the pinky finger on the outside corner of the fingernail bed. This point is tiny, so best to use the tip of your fingernail to apply pressure to this point. Apply medium pressure and take ten deep breaths, then switch and do the other finger. Activate this point multiple times a day as needed.  

Ren 17:

Located in the center of the chest, on the sternum, midline between the nipples when lying down. Using the first two fingers, apply medium pressure and rotate in a small clockwise circular motion. Take 10 deep breaths. Activate this point multiple times a day as needed.  

How can acupuncture help me to adjust to life as a new mom?

  • Stress - Being a new mom can be a very stressful and distressing time. Acupuncture is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety by balancing the nervous system and resetting hormone levels. New moms often spend a lot of time in their “fight or flight” response known as the sympathetic nervous system and worrying about their newborns. Acupuncture helps us relax and shift into our parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system. This shift changes our neurochemistry increasing our “happy” hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine, decreasing our main “stress” hormone known as cortisol, so you can relax and ease into life as a new mom!

  • Fatigue - Being a new mom keeps us on our toes. It’s no wonder so many moms are tired. Acupuncture has shown in scientific studies to increase energy in even the toughest cases including those suffering from cancer and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One of the ways acupuncture increases energy is through increased circulation. We all feel more energetic when our blood is moving, and acupuncture increases circulation to give us an extra pep in our step. Over time chronic stress can leave us feeling tired. Acupuncture interacts with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis (HPA A) to relieve excessive excitation to the HPA A and decrease a cascade of negative stress responses on the body, giving your adrenals a chance to heal. ?

  • Sleep - Because new moms wake up during the night to feed their babies, their own sleep cycle can be disrupted. Acupuncture can help new moms get their sleep back on track. Acupuncture increases melatonin, which helps to balance the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Acupuncture can also boost GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter to help the brain relax and the body fall asleep.

    Insider Tip: It is very common for people to fall asleep during an acupuncture session. This can be an especially nice escape for new moms!

Dr. Shari Auth, Co-Founder, WTHN

Dr. Shari Auth, Co-Founder, WTHN

Shari Auth, DACM, LAC, LMT has been a leading holistic health practitioner in New York City for over two decades. Her signature treatments combine ancient wisdom from global traditions with scientific knowledge and deep intuition to treat a wide range of conditions including chronic and acute pain, mental health, women's health, insomnia, digestion, and postural issues, among others.

Dr. Auth has studied the healing arts globally from China to India, Peru, Thailand and beyond – becoming steeped in ancient healing practices that have woven the rich tapestry of her healing practices today. She studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and is a licensed and NCCAOM certified Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. She has a Master’s in Herbology and is a Board Certified Chinese Herbalist also with extensive training in Vedic and Western herbs. Among her many other accreditations, she is a licensed massage therapist, guild-certified in the Rolf Method of Structural Integration and a Faculty Member of the Swedish Institute, NYC. She founded The Auth Method of Therapeutic Massage and has trained thousands of practitioners on this method. 

From her work at Deepak Chopra’s Center in Southern California to WTHN, her own wellness practice in New York City, Shari has attracted celebrity clientele with her signature blend of acupuncture, herbs, and bodywork.

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