Through my postpartum and second pregnancy journey, I have found a new passion for seeking wellness and healing for myself. I’ve shared about this before and recently went more in-depth in my “everything I’m doing to have a positive pregnancy and birth the second time around” blog post. With that, it has inspired me to begin sharing more about wellness both from the natural side and medical side (I’m excited to be sharing a very specific blog post from a doctors perspective on arthritis next week) in hopes to educate and inspire others to take their health and wellness (both physically and mentally) more seriously. I think it is so important to be an advocate for your own physical and mental health, and if I can inspire just 1 of you to take a deep dive into helping and healing yourselves then I feel like I’ve done something positive and impactful.
With that, today I am beyond happy to have my wonderful acupuncturist, Amanda Conrad, talk to you about a more holistic approach to pain (and other ailments) through acupuncture.
Acupuncture was always something that I was intrigued by, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I was nervous about having needles poking me, therefore was hesitant. However, after chatting with my chiropractor, she suggested that it may be beneficial for my pain management during pregnancy. After my first few sessions with Amanda, I could feel such a difference in my pain and what’s more is that every time I had an acupuncture session, I left feeling very uplifted and in a positive mindset for a few days following. Aside from pain management, I was fascinated to learn that acupuncture can be helpful in other aspects for pregnancy and even postpartum (more below) and can help SO many people with SO many different ailments.
I’ve been fascinated by acupuncture and Amanda ever since beginning my sessions with her, and I was so happy when she agreed to allow me to pick her brain and share some of her knowledge with you here today. So, without further adieu, here is a q&a all about acupuncture. And as always, if you have any more questions or comments, please leave them below or send me an email. I’d be happy to answer them or have Amanda do so for you!
For anyone who is unsure, can you explain exactly what acupuncture is and what you do?
Acupuncture is a medicine that has been used for over 3000 years and has just started to become a little more mainstream. We use very small needles (about the width of a hair) to manipulate the body’s Qi. Before you get confused, Qi – pronounced like ‘chee’- is the life force, or energy, that circulates in our body. It’s made up mostly of the air we breathe and the broken-down things we consume to provide us with this energy. Healthy Qi travels through pathways that we call meridians but can become stuck depending on different factors. These could look like a physical injury, poor lifestyle habits such as food choices, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, emotional strain, and more. Acupuncture re-balances this Qi to promote healing. It is also known to down-regulate the nervous system to help the body relax and bring itself back to homeostasis where it can properly heal.
Who can benefit from acupuncture?
Everyone! I was told once “Acupuncture can treat anything you don’t have to go to the emergency room for”. That being said, I feel like there is some common sense to be used there. One of the reasons I love what I do is because there are very few contraindications with treating different health issues. Of course, check with your practitioner, and ALWAYS be honest as you walk through your health history with them. We see everything from digestion problems, emotional strain, injuries, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, frozen shoulder, headaches, and more. I personally love working with women and treating women’s health, but that’s a whole other paragraph as to why! I often see women to regulate their cycles, support them through their pregnancies, IVF, recurrent miscarriage, and any other concern they may have.
I’ve recently learned that acupuncture is an amazing thing to utilize during pregnancy. Can you tell me a few of the ways acupuncture can help during pregnancy, leading up to birth, and postpartum?
During pregnancy, we can use every Acupuncture point except a handful of them. This allows us to treat symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue, heartburn, or physical pains. Once you are around 36 weeks, we can safely use all points and start doing some induction. Acupuncture can help ripen the cervix, bring blood flow to the pelvis, encourage baby to descend in the proper position and we even have points to flip a breech baby if some help is needed. Postpartum is an important time to focus on mental health and hormone rebalancing. We have even protocols for making sure you have an adequate milk supply. Studies have even been shown that pre-birth Acupuncture can reduce medical intervention at birth by close to 40%, and women are reporting a faster recovery after! I could really go on forever about the benefits of this one.
Aside from physical ailments, can acupuncture be helpful for your mental health?
Acupuncture is great for mental health. It releases endorphins and positively affects serotonin. Acupuncture is a huge form of self-care. No matter what we are working on, giving yourself 30 minutes of time in a day to rest can really help regulate your nervous system and calm your mind.
When I came to see you, you suggested incorporating warming foods and liquids into my diet. Why is that and do you have any other wellness tips you’d like to share?
If anyone has been to a TCM Acupuncturist, they’ve probably heard this before. Cold congeals. Think of ice freezing, slowing or stopping the movement of things. The same goes for our internal body and digestion. If we’re drinking ice water or eating cold, raw foods a lot (salads, smoothies, uncooked veg) our bodies will slow and become congested. This can create some strange symptoms. I had a patient who came in with such pain in her upper left abdomen that she went to emergency twice. They could find nothing and kept sending her home. When she came to see me, I asked about her diet and told her to add some more warm, hearty foods into her diet like soups, stews, and ginger. A week later in her follow up her pain was gone and she felt great again. Acupuncture is like solving a puzzle and finding the root of a problem rather than putting a bandaid on it. Other health tips are: movement is very underutilized medicine, and burn-out is not cool. Take a break!
Is Acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture shouldn’t be painful. While we are working with needles, there can be sensations that feel dull or like a quick pinch, but no pain or discomfort will stay for the length of the appointment. We want you to be comfortable and many people don’t feel a thing.
Where can we find you?
I will be launching The Dartmouth Wellness Collective at the beginning of November. We’re a new clinic in Dartmouth promising a safe, educational space where women (and men!) can come for their treatments. I want to create a home where we can find all the information we need as women but were never taught. Helping to advocate for all of us, create a community of incredible people, and most importantly, relieve their symptoms and finally feel like they have the answers they deserve.