31.07.2017 Eastern Healing

Acupuncture for morning sickness

Pregnancy doesn’t have to mean months of miserable mornings, says Oriental medicine practitioner Oliver LeJus

For most women, the news that they are pregnant brings an overwhelming feeling of joy, and relief if they have been trying for a while

Unfortunately for many, that powerful emotional bonding with their future child will soon be replaced by an overwhelming surge of pain, nausea, and vomiting.

It is estimated that between half and two thirds of pregnant women experience morning sickness.

While feeling sick in the early stage of pregnancy can be a positive sign that the pregnancy hormones levels are kicking in, the onset of these debilitating symptoms can make the expectant mother very miserable. In some cases the onset of vomiting can be so severe that hydration and nourishment via intravenous fluids is required.

Knowing that these digestive problems will have no long-term effects on her health, or the unborn baby can be a relief. But in the meantime, the future mother’s capacity to work, look after her children, perform daily tasks, and obviously enjoy her pregnancy.is affected.

In the past, morning sickness was often considered to be a manifestation of stress, or negative feelings about the pregnancy, but this theory has now been discredited.

Recent research has found that the severest nausea and vomiting occurs when the levels of pregnancy hormones, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), and oestrogen, are their peak– between nine and eleven weeks. It is a time when the baby’s development is the most vulnerable to the surge of human chemicals in the body. This explains why women expecting twins or triplets, who have even higher levels of pregnancy hormones, tend to be more severely affected that others. There is also a theory that the increased sensitivity to smell is a protective measure against accidental exposure to harmful bacteria.

While is still unclear why at least a third of lucky women manage to go through their pregnancy without experiencing any digestive problems, casual observation points towards a genetic disposition to the likelihood of being affected. Also, in many cases, women who normally suffer from travel sickness, or have suffered with their first child are more likely to be affected again with subsequent pregnancies.

There are many tips for alleviating the digestive discomfort.

Doctors recommend eating small, frequent meals several times a day, with an emphasis on high protein foods and complex carbohydrates, while staying away from fatty foods, which are more difficult to digest.

Since, in most cases, the digestive problems will disappear after the first three months, it can be helpful to avoid, for a short period of time, all the foods that trigger your nausea, while increasing your intake of what you feel comfortable eating, even if your diet ends up being temporarily imbalanced.

Often cooking meals can bring on nausea, so you might prefer eating cold foods until your condition improves. It is very important to drink a lot of fluids while pregnant, and some women have found that adding lemon to the water is very helpful to avoid feeling queasy.

There are also many alternative treatments to taking Western medication. Ginger has been prescribed for the treatment of nausea since antiquity, and ginger tea is now available in many supermarkets, and most health stores. Peppermint tea is also a good alternative. Acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of digestive problems, and morning sickness.

A recent Australian study by the University of Adelaide compared two different kinds of acupuncture for the treatment of morning sickness.

The medical research studied 600 women, who were less than 14 weeks pregnant. The first method used a variety of acupuncture points on the forearm or abdomen, while the second one involved the use of a single point classically associated with nausea and vomiting.

The patients who received 20 minutes of acupuncture a week made remarkable improvements.

Dr Caroline Smith, who led the research, commented:
Our results have shown that as little as one treatment can significantly change the way these women feel. We found that traditional acupuncture reduced nausea throughout the trial, with dry retching being reduced from the second week.

"I hope this exciting evidence that complementary therapy does work will open up new opportunities for funding future research in women's health.

One of the acupuncture points used in that study is located on the forearm, two inches above the inside of the wrist, between the two middle tendons. Pericardium 6 is also a very effective point for treating seasickness. Many chemist shops sell specially designed wrist bands which have a little protruding bead inserted into the fabric to stimulate that point. They are totally painless, surprisingly effective, and they can be retained for several days without any discomfort.

Each patient has her own individual pattern of dysfunction and probably has several other symptoms that would require some attention, so having a couple of treatments with a professional acupuncturist would obviously be beneficial. But if you are unable to see one, these special bands can definitely be helpful.

Olivier Lejus

Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com