Pregnancy and Acupuncture: Spin Your Breech Baby

True story: Susan burned moxibustion (moxa) on my sister-in-law’s toe, and my nephew flipped from breech to optimal, head down position almost immediately.acupuncture-and-pregnancy

Top Five Benefits of Acupuncture and Pregnancy:

  1. Conception
  2. Alleviating Discomfort
  3. Spinning that Baby
  4. Riping for Labor
  5. Postpartum Care

Susan McMigas at Flourish in Vancouver, WA has created a beautiful and healing space for women to receive care before, during, and after pregnancy. She is committed to sharing resources to ensure women have access to tools that make a real difference in their motherhood journey.

Unfortunately, I first met Susan after I had all three kiddos. After ignoring an issue with a swollen knee for three months, I finally made an appointment with Susan thanks to a suggestion from a dear friend. As I was dropping my kids off at my sister-in-law’s house on my way to acupuncture, my sister-in-law exclaimed, “Susan flipped Luke [her son], during the last week of my pregnancy!”. I’m not sure how this wasn’t discussed between us before. I told Susan of our connection the moment I met her, and we spent the better part of 20 minutes talking about the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy.

True story: Susan burned moxibustion (moxa) on my sister-in-law’s toe, and my nephew flipped from breech to optimal, head down position almost immediately. “According to TCM theory, moxa has a tonifying and warming effect which promotes movement and activity.  The nature of heat is also rising.  This warming and raising effect is utilized to encourage the baby to become more active and lift its bottom up in order to gain adequate momentum to somersault into the head down position. This technique can also be used to re-position transverse presentation, a situation where the baby’s has its shoulder or back pointing down, or is lying sideways across the abdomen” (Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond).

Susan is clear that several appointments may be needed, but they won’t be a waste of time. Take it from me, the relaxation involved is worth the effort of getting a sitter, time off work, and spending the extra money if acupuncture isn’t covered by your insurance.

 

Conceiving Naturally With Acupuncture

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.

conceiving

Missy is so kind to share her experience with acupuncture and her pregnancy journey. Enjoy!

I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 33 in 2012. At the time, I knew I wanted children, but was not in a relationship, so I decided I would do everything I could to get myself in the best shape I could to be ready to conceive once I was in a position to do so. I began taking Metformin and started a workout program. I lost about 20 pounds, but still had long, irregular cycles. My husband and I got married in 2014 and were immediately open to getting pregnant. As I was already 35, I gave us 6 months of no interventions to try to allow nature to take its course. After 6 months, I was going to return to the doctor who had said I would probably need Clomid to conceive.

Around this time my trainer mentioned that his wife had used acupuncture in their efforts to conceive. As I was hoping to avoid more invasive fertility treatments, I was willing to give it a try. I met with the acupuncturist and after reviewing my history, we developed a plan. I saw her twice a week in the beginning, and then after several weeks we went to once a week. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I conceived after about 6 weeks of treatments (after my first period I had after I started treatments). I continued treatments until I realized I was pregnant (approximately 11-12 weeks of treatments). Unfortunately, I lost my first baby between 6 and 7 weeks. After consulting with my acupuncturist and midwife, we agreed I could resume treatments after my first cycle post-miscarriage. I conceived again on that first cycle. I fully credit acupuncture with helping me get pregnant twice in 4 months.

After an uneventful second pregnancy, I sailed past my due date and was at 41+3 when I had reached my breaking point. I thought to seek out my acupuncturist again and see if she did anything for induction. She mentioned she had an induction protocol and could see me that night. I conferred with my husband, who said “What’s the worst that could happen?”, and I left immediately to see my acupuncturist. She told me that if the session worked, I would most likely wake up in labor the next morning, but that it could take several sessions. I went to sleep that night around 2 a.m. (not my smartest idea) and woke up in labor at 5 a.m.. I had a long but steady, 20 hour hard labor and gave birth at home to my 9lb 8oz baby girl in May 2016. I fully credit acupuncture with jump starting my labor, although I know it would not have worked if my baby wasn’t ready.

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May's Guide to ChildbirthAhhh, the gold standard for expecting home birth mamas! It’s true, everyone should read this gem of a book to explore the wisdom of Ina May Gaskin. In Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin uses birth stories and informative narrative to instruct expectant moms and midwives on natural childbirth. Once again, the beauty is in Gaskin’s language circling birth and the choices women make around their birth(s).

Chapter Four, Sphincter Law, was my visual guide during my first birth. I’m positive it was also my midwife’s gauge during the pushing stage. Of course many women find that the birth stories provide invaluable information and inspiration.

Chapter Three focuses on how we view pain and fear during childbirth. After three home births, I am consistently asked how I managed the pain of childbirth. In America, the images of childbirth that are in mainstream media, told around the kitchen table or  shared in the workplace are often riddled with horror and pain. Gaskin paints a different picture of birth and the pain associated with labor. As my birth teacher says, “It’s pain with purpose.” Yes and yes!

Ina May also suggests many tools and techniques to cope with the pain and fear often associated with childbirth. Gaskin provides evidence and potential side effects if one chooses to medicate in an effort to avoid pain associated with birth. This is key. I hear many women share that they didn’t realize what would happen after they chose medication during childbirth. Ask questions. Always.

Although the information and stories in  a Guide to Childbirth are timeless, approachable, and accurate, I do wish the stories were more contemporary and encompassing of a variety of women. Again, this isn’t a criticism, just an observation that frankly doesn’t matter as I was initially inspire to take the home birth journey thanks to Ina May!

Midwife Liz in Ireland

13737591_1082598538442977_423303551401227599_oImagine antenatal appointments in your home or at your place of work with the same midwife who will attend your birth. Imagine these visits lasting two to three hours and accompanied with tea and conversation generated by your concerns, thoughts, and recent research discoveries. Imagine maternity care from an open minded, evidence based seeker with enough empathy and strength to make you feel any goal you wish to reach is possible.

The women in Ireland need not imagine. Liz with UK Birth Centres/Neighbourhood Midwives is one of those beautiful souls that will move mountains to make sure you are in control and confident in your birth choices. Liz believes maternity care is a “personal friendship” and she walks the talk by listening, communicating with care, and discussing robust evidence based literature with her clients to ensure each and every choice, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is carefully made.

Liz started her midwifery career in 2006 after putting her shovel down as an archeologist, Liz has been practicing in the growing Ireland home birth community for almost two years, and she has attended, as a lead midwife, 60 home births in that time. She’s busy. Before joining Neighbourhood Midwives, Liz worked for 18 months in a large, understaffed hospital where the maternity ward cared for every aspect, both positive and heartbreaking, in a single wing. Liz spoke fondly of this experience as she learned more than she could have imagined during those 12 hour shifts that were nonstop and demanded a deep understanding of midwifery and the ability to make quick and accurate decisions. Liz also recalled the emotional capacity she quickly developed as she would often care for a woman coping with a miscarriage at 20 weeks and then a laboring women the next second in the room next door. Liz’s experience at the hospital cultivated a respectful relationship that makes communication easier if Liz has a transfer from a home birth. Liz chuckled, “They [the hospital] should trust me. They trained me!”.

During the two hours Liz carved out to talk with me, her passion for genuine, intentional care came across in every word and gesture;  it’s easy to understand why she is successful in her midwifery practice. I had heard praise from several mum’s she has worked with over the last two years, and my only wish is that I was having another baby with her in Ireland! Liz accepts, without fear, the responsibility to help women usher their babies into this world in the way they wish to do it. Even if the birth plan doesn’t go as planned, Liz has an internal commitment to work with the mother to ensure the mother feels in control and empowered to make the decisions that need to be made for the health of mother and baby. This commitment to putting the mother in control of her birth goes beyond labor. Liz is passionate about post natal care as she knows how critical those first weeks after birth are for bonding and transitioning into a new, beautiful life.

Liz, as well as all the midwives at Neighbourhood Midwives, will visit the mother and baby 4-5 times in the first week after birth, two times the second week, and once the third week. However, when a birth doesn’t go as planned,  Liz will make daily visits until both parties are comfortable. Liz has even stayed at the home until mum and babe were on the mend.

Healthcare in any country can be confusing, and Ireland is no different. Liz explained that “although maternity care is provided under the HSE, Health Service Executive, home birth is only offered by two other establishments with a narrow scope and little, to no, room for negotiation if your pregnancy goes outside their policies”. Women seeking a home birth or more control over their birth choices, look to private companies and use private insurance or pay out of pocket. Quoted from the Neighbourhood Midwives website: “Neighbourhood Midwives work in partnership with UK Birth Centres to bring private maternity services to Irish families. Informed choice is the foundation of our service. All clinical care is provided by Irish midwives employed by UK Birth Centres”. Neighbourhood Midwives is currently serving select areas in Ireland, but they hope to be country wide in the future. If you would like to have care  in your neck of the woods, reach out and let your hopes be heard!

Pushed

 Pushed   : The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block is a must read for anyone who cares about maternity care = everyone. Block explores maternity care with an incredible balance between credible research and anecdote. Her voice consistently searches for the truth while maintaining a focus that aims to shed light on the experiences of modern women navigating the shockingly muddy waters of having a baby in modern America.

I especially appreciate Block’s investigation that pushes back against the damaging and infuriating phrase, “The only thing that matters is a healthy baby!”. Of course a healthy baby matters, but so does a happy mama and family. As anyone who has experienced a traumatic birth, nearly 85% of women in the U.S., this simply isn’t true (Northrup, MD). In a modern society, we can do better for our mamas, babies, and families.

Not only is Pushed a history lesson for many, it has the power, through knowledge, to instill confidence  in women when discussing their birth options with their healthcare provider-no matter where or how they choose to birth. On a deeper level, Pushed can also be a tool in opening conversations with our mothers and grandmothers regarding their birth experiences.

Pushed is the updated and evidence based resource I was looking for during my first two pregnancies. I read it throughout my third pregnancy, and I still regard it as one of my best resources for discussing home birth with those who have questions and/or concerns. It did take a bit to get through as several sections are dense with statistics. Get your highlighters and pens ready to take notes! I would also suggest a few post-it notes. Enjoy!

Emily’s Home Birth

emily-home-birth_I figure I had better get Emily’s  home birth story written before she is 21. First of all, it was amazing. Her birth was amazing due to all the wonderful support we have in our lives… I’ll get to all that.

After several, four, horrible experiences at The Woman’s Clinic of __________, Ryan and I decided to seek out a midwife and have a home birth. We were already 21 weeks into the pregnancy and a little worried. My best friend’s sister had two home births with the same midwife team that delivered herself, my best friend, and two of her brothers. I quickly got her info, and Ryan and I met with her at Starbucks. We fell in love. Mary and Pita are a mother and daughter midwife team. Mary has been catching babies for over 30 years and exudes a calm, confident understanding of birth . We could not have felt more sure of our choice. Mary came to our home for all prenatal appointments. How cool is that?!? She has a holistic approach to health and is a firm believer that pregnancy is not an illness. Our thoughts exactly.

I will say that my pregnancy was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. Ryan and I feel lucky to have had such a great experience while I was carrying Emily. For me, enjoying the pregnancy was half mental. If you have the mentality that your body is made to create this life, you are more apt to not think of the changes in your body as an illness. I also think that getting up early, moving, working, eating well, and living life as normal as possible is so important. Our birthing classes reinforced the idea that pregnancy is natural. Our midwife, Pita, and her friend, Amber, taught our Bradley birthing class. It was a ten week series that set us up for the successful birth of Emily. (Off soapbox).

We wanted to have a non-medicated birth at home. I knew I would not be relaxed and/or comfortable in any other setting besides our home. I wanted to be free to move and labor however I felt most comfortable. I didn’t want anyone checking my progress or filling my head with fear/doubts about my body’s ability to give birth. Our birth team was behind us 100%. Not only that, but they love births. Everything about them. Continue reading

Mary Beth’s Birth

 

Weighing in at six pounds 12 ounces.

Born April 4, 2013 at 10:17 AM

I thought I was going into labor the night before it actually happened. I was on spring break, and we had moved into our new place the weekend before. We also had a contractor coming in the morning to finish our hardwood floors. We seem to remodel when we have babies… not doing it a third time (the remodel, not the baby). So, when I woke up at 5 AM with contractions, I thought it best to not wake Ryan. I timed them instead. The contractions were kinda strong and 10 minutes apart. I thought I was just having some joint pain. This was a common sensation the second time around. However, the “joint pain” was fairly consistent. I decided to wake Ryan when they were eight minutes apart. Good thing too. The contraction were quickly 7 minutes, then six, then… you get the point. We called our Midwife, Mary.

Correction: Ryan called Mary while I called my mom to ask if we could have a baby in her living room. I laugh as I type this, because it sounds so crazy. I couldn’t have a baby  in our new house because I wanted those floors finished ASAP. My mom said to come on over. I packed our bags, jumped in the shower, and prepped for having a baby (mentally). It’s all  mental, folks.

Continue reading