Guest Post: Acupuncture for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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This week, I have Dr. Stephanie Cordes, ND, answering some of the most commonly asked questions about acupuncture during the perinatal period. Dr. Cordes has a private naturopathic practice in Guelph, Ontario. She also works alongside other talented acupuncturists at Guelph Community Acupuncture.

What has drawn you to acupuncture?

I was terrified of acupuncture and almost avoided going to school for naturopathic medicine altogether. Acupuncture is one of the modalities they teach in Ontario (and a few other schools in North America). The first person to “poke” me was a student, nervously needling for the very first time. I was hooked almost immediately, nothing calmed me down from my exam related anxiety like a good poke (yes I do realize what that sounds like). It’s still my go-to for most issues, especially when it comes to pain, mood, and fertility/pregnancy.

Can you explain a bit about how clients use acupuncture in their pregnancies?

The most common things people come in for during pregnancy would be back/hip pain, heartburn, nausea, and then to induce labour once the pregnancy has reached 40 weeks. Another thing we love to do is to encourage breeched babies to turn. It all works so well and is very safe for both mother and baby.

How is acupuncture used as a way to induce labour?

There are 5 points on each leg and one point in each hand that we tend to use often (it depends on the person). These points are known to increase the chance and frequency and contractions, soften the cervix, bring the baby down into the pelvis, and help loosen and prepare the ligaments of the pelvis. Then we often add in a few other points (for anxiety, back/hip pain, or ankle edema for example) depending on what else is going on.

How can it be used during labour?

We’ve had a couple folks come in to help encourage more regular contractions and to manage some of the back pain that can occur. However if someone would like acupuncture to support active labour, I would suggest finding a midwife or doula who is has an acupuncture license. Another option is acupressure, which is something that anyone can do and is quite easy (although it can require a lot of strength). Debra Betts has an informative and easy-to-use free pdf booklet for acupressure.
**The organization Toronto Acubirthing is an option for someone desiring acupuncture during labour**

After a baby is born, what are some of the benefits of using acupuncture in the postpartum period?

There are so many! Giving birth is a really big deal and the body has this magical ability to go through dramatic changes. As a result, someone may feel drained afterwards. Then there’s also the stress of being a good parent and learning how to take care of a little being that is so reliant on you for survival. At community acupuncture we find so many new parents feel less anxious and more energetic. The environment of getting acupuncture in a calming space with other people can also help with feelings of isolation that are all too common for new parents. We also have folks nap in our chairs all the time.For many new parents, it’s a great opportunity to get in a great quality, restful sleep.

Are babies welcome at postpartum appointments?

Unfortunately, the community style of acupuncture does not lend well to folks bringing their children in. Whenever people ask if they can bring in their kids we ask: “are they able to sit on the couch quietly?”. We wish we could offer childcare, but the reality is that we don’t have the resources to do that. However, we do have quite a lot of postpartum clients who make it in whenever they can. Acupuncture is a great way to relax, help with any uncomfortable moods, and support the mindbody adjust to a new life chapter.

Are there any other forms of care that works really well alongside acupuncture?

There are so many other therapies and treatments out there that people find give an extra boost to their journey through fertility, pregnancy, and the postpartum period. Our clients commonly see therapists, have naturopathic doctors, use physio, or see a chiropractor or osteopath on a regular basis. For others, they find acupuncture is enough and it works for them. It’s a very personal thing that we encourage folks to explore if they choose to.

Do you have any words of comfort for people that might be hesitant to try acupuncture for the first time?

I resisted it for so long, but was hooked right from the time of my first poke. I always find it an honour to be there for others exploring acupuncture for the first time. It typically doesn’t hurt, but if it does we can take the needle out right away. If you visit a community acupuncture clinic, you can bring a friend in with you and get treated side-by-side. This can make the experience less anxiety provoking for a lot of folks. And if you do get a little nervous, acupuncture is a great way to help with those first-poke jitters.

I personally have trouble keeping up with consistent acupuncture appointments. Do you have any comments regarding clients visiting once, versus consistent treatments?

We know that acupuncture has a cumulative effect: this means that one treatment will have more of an effect if you’re getting more in general. We often talk about it being like taking a drug every day vs once a month. That being said, people react to acupuncture differently. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes all of a person’s complaints resolve after one treatment (which is exciting!). The general guideline we tell clients is 6-8 treatments for acute complaints, and 10-12 for more chronic issues.
headshot-2Dr. Stephanie Cordes, ND has a special interest in mental wellness, pain, and digestive health. Health education and increasing the accessibility of complementary healthcare has been a longtime passion and she has built a practice that recognizes structural violence as a major player when it comes to human health. She focuses on empowering the individual by delivering trauma informed care, offering insight about current health research, and involving people in the creation of their own realistic treatment plans. Stephanie can be found at her downtown private practice in Guelph or offering more affordable acupuncture at Guelph Community Acupuncture. For more information visit my website, email, or call 519-835-5215. Looking for Guelph Community Acupuncture? Check out our website or send us an email.

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