With the news breaking that Meghan Markle has been going for acupuncture sessions to help her through her pregnancy, no doubt there will be many of you out there inspired to try the ancient Chinese technique to assist you in a similar way.
Don’t worry if you do want to book acupuncture at our Chester clinic, since the British Acupuncture Council says the practice is very safe for pregnant women and, in fact, is a highly effective option at a time when you might choose to avoid medication over fears it may affect the baby.
You can relieve the symptoms of all sorts of pregnancy-related conditions using acupuncture, from morning sickness and anxiety to high or low blood pressure, tiredness, constipation, backache, tender breasts, varicose veins, migraines and headaches, and pelvic pain.
The practice can also help to induce labour in overdue pregnancies, but it should only be used when you’ve passed your due date and with the consent of your obstetric team.
And you can also use it to help you during labour itself as a form of pain relief and to give you a much-needed energy boost if your labour is proving to be a long one. Once you’ve given birth, you might also find acupuncture helpful for the treatment of mastitis, to increase your energy levels and to promote the healing process.
Acupuncture itself involves the stimulation of the sensory nerves under the skin and in your muscles to make your body produce natural substances like endorphins, which can act as pain relief. The traditional practice is based on the idea that energy (or life force) flows through us in channels known as meridians, a life force that’s known as Qi (pronounced ‘chee’).
The belief is that when this Qi doesn’t flow through the body freely, illness is often the result. Acupuncture can be used to restore this flow and therefore bring people back to health.
A typical session of acupuncture will last between 20 and 40 minutes, with your initial assessment also involving questions about your general health and medical history, as well as a physical examination.
Needles will be placed into specific parts of your body (known as acupuncture points), either just under the skin or deeper so they reach muscle tissue. Once in place, the needles can be left in your body for anything from a few minutes to up to about half an hour.
You’ll likely feel a bit of tingling or perhaps a dull ache when the needles go in, but you shouldn’t feel any real pain. If you do, make sure you let your acupuncturist know immediately.
When choosing your acupuncture practitioner, make sure they’re either a regulated healthcare professional (like a physio, nurse or doctor) or that they’re a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.