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September 2016

Preventing Miscarriage with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.
Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.

Finally seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test is a long-awaited, and rightfully celebrated, moment for all of my patients! This joy can quickly become sadness if the pregnancy is not viable. Miscarriage is a very common occurrence with 10-25% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage. The most common cause of miscarriage is genetic abnormalities that cause the embryo to be non-viable. Other causes of miscarriage can include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities: PCOS, low progesterone, diabetes, etc
  • Lifestyle issues: smoking, excessive alcohol use, excessive caffeine, drug use,exposure to toxic substances, etc
  • Maternal age: the prevalence of genetic abnormalities increase with age
  • Thin or low quality endometrial lining
  • Immune system issues
  • Trauma: generally only very severe trauma leads to miscarriage
  • Structural abnormalities in the uterus: adhesions, polyps, septum, etc
  • Blood clotting: anti-phospholipid syndrome

For less than 1% women, miscarriages can become recurrent. This is typically diagnosed after having 3 miscarriages. A thorough workup is done to try and find out the cause and determine what treatment is appropriate. Fortunately, many causes of recurrent miscarriage are treatable. Even in the case of genetic abnormalities, like chromosome translocation, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be utilized in combination with IVF to help decrease the chance of miscarriage.

 

What can I do to prevent miscarriage?

There is a lot you can do on your own to help prevent miscarriage. Much of this work involves managing chronic illness or hormonal imbalances and modifying complicating lifestyle factors. For example:

  • Quit smoking as soon as possible in your conception journey
  • Limit coffee and tea to 1-2 cups daily
  • Maintain a healthy BMI
  • Seek the help of your physician in managing diabetes, PCOS, or other health problems
  • Eat a healthy whole-foods diet high in fruits, veggies, and protein and low in sugar and processed foods
  • Limit exposure to toxic chemicals or environments
  • Avoid dangerous situations or activities where severe trauma may occur 

 

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture can be a very useful for assisting in the prevention of miscarriage when not related to chromosomal abnormalities by treating many of the common causes of miscarriage. Acupuncture can be helpful in the following ways:

  • Increasing the thickness and quality of the endometrial lining
  • Helping regulate hormones
  • Helping to treat PCOS 
  • Reducing uterine contractions in early pregnancy
  • Improving uterine blood flow to help prevent blood clots
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Stress reduction

What does the research say?

Research on acupuncture and miscarriage is very promising. One recent study on acupuncture done along with IVF showed a 50% decrease in the miscarriage rate.

Another study suggests acupuncture may even be a potential supportive treatment for threatened or recurrent miscarriages due to its beneficial effects on serum cortisol and prolactin levels during IVF.

Acupuncture’s known effects on stress are also a possible mechanism by which miscarriage rates could be reduced. According this same study, it is possible that stress in very early pregnancy may cause overactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis leading to reduced progesterone levels. In reducing this stress, progesterone levels may stay higher.

 

When should I start acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be started at any point along your journey. Some basic recommendations are here:

  • If you are pregnant: We recommend acupuncture weekly through the first trimester to support blood flow to the uterus, reduce stress, and support progesterone levels before the placenta is fully developed.
  • If you are trying to conceive: Generally, it is recommended to begin acupuncture 3 months prior to conception for most causes of recurrent miscarriage. This allows the treatments to affect overall cycle health, hormone balance, and egg quality as it takes 90 days for an egg to prepare for ovulation. However, the effects of acupuncture are beneficial at any stage of your journey, and accumulate over time. We see many women while they are actively trying to conceive naturally or with fertility treatment. We have protocols for IVF, IUI, medicated cycles and couples trying naturally.

 

Please give our office a call to discuss your specific situation or to schedule an appointment. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. We wish you the best of luck!!

 

 

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jacquelinehurst/acupuncture-to-support-fe_b_5958722.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342918/

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/miscarriage/

http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq100.pdf

http://natural-fertility-info.com/increase-egg-health

http://eastwindsacupuncture.com/acupuncture-in-ivf-linked-to-lower-miscarriage-and-ectopic-rates/

 

Pre-Birth Acupuncture: Helping Prepare Your Body for The Best Birth Possible

Here's a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture
Here’s a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’ve undoubtedly spent many hours day-dreaming about the upcoming birth of your baby. The last few weeks of pregnancy are a really exciting time! You may have even written a birth plan and discussed your wishes with your doctor or midwife. Many of you will desire to have a vaginal delivery or may even be trying to avoid using any medications during labor and trying to do everything you can to help ensure your birth goes according to plan.

In addition to keeping healthy and active during your pregnancy, there is one more thing you can do in the final weeks of your pregnancy to help encourage a healthy delivery. Pre-Birth acupuncture is helpful in preparing your body and mind for labor and delivery.

 

What is pre-birth acupuncture?

Pre-Birth Acupuncture is a series of 4-5 weekly treatments beginning at week 36 of your pregnancy that are designed to help your body go into labor on time and to labor to progress normally and without complication once it begins. It is not labor induction and will not bring on labor. The baby is in control of his or her arrival date.

Pre-birth acupuncture reduces the need for epidurals, emergency C-sections, and reduces the time you spend in active labor. Overall, vaginal birth rates increase in women who receive these treatments.

 

What does the research show:

  1. Reduces the time spent in the first stage labor (period of time between 3 cm dilated and full dilation) by an average of 2 hours
  2. Reduces the number of inductions in frist time moms by 43% and 35% in all others
  3. Reduces rate of epidural usage by 31%
  4. Reduces emergency C-section rate by 32%
  5. Increases vaginal birth rates by 9%

 

In addition to these benefits, this is a great time to address any stress or symptoms that you might be experiencing in the last few weeks. Acupuncture can be useful for swelling, back/hip pain, acid reflux, headaches, and many other common pregnancy symptoms. We can even use acupuncture to encourage breech babies to turn!

We recommend these treatments as a standard part of our prenatal acupuncture protocol, and many women choose to start prenatal acupuncture in these final weeks to help make their birth plans a reality.

Give us a call with questions or to set up your pre-birth treatments today!

 

References:

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/prebirth/