Acupuncture & Morning Sickness (Part One)

Acupuncture Auckand: The following article on Morning Sickness outlines the Western and Eastern viewpoints on how and why it occurs and provides lots of helpful tips for pregnant nausea and vomiting sufferers!

Western Medicine Information

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is often called ‘morning sickness’ despite occurring at any time of the day or night. It is thought to occur in approximately one half of all pregnancies, usually between the sixth and sixteenth weeks, being at its most intense at eight to twelve weeks.

This is only a rough guide as for some women the experience begins as early as their first delayed period, whilst for the unfortunate it can continue right through until birth itself.  It is also common for nausea and vomiting that has previously resolved to reappear in the last few weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.

The degree to which women experience morning sickness varies considerably, as the nausea can present on its own or be accompanied by vomiting. It may only be present at a certain time of the day, for example first thing in the morning, or it may be there constantly, including on waking during the night.  Its intensity can also vary depending on factors such as fatigue and eating habits.

There are a number of theories as to why nausea occurs in pregnancy:

  • Hormone levels. There is a rapid increase in certain hormones such as hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) and oestrogen.  hCG is thought to be the main culprit.  The levels of this hormone increase at their most rapid in the first trimester.
  • Brain stem.  The brain stem is the command post for nausea and vomiting.  It has been suggested that the way the brain stem responds to the hormones produced during pregnancy influences the levels of nausea and vomiting a woman experiences.
  • Fatigue and stress levels.  It is thought that a women’s risk of developing morning sickness increases if she is stressed and fatigued prior to becoming pregnant.  Certainly tiredness and exhaustion will usually heighten any nausea during a pregnancy.

The usual conventional treatment for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is to offer reassurance to women that this is only temporary and is expected to improve by 12 to 14 weeks. Antiemetic medication such as Maxalon, considered to be safe to take in pregnancy, may be offered and admission to hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids will be an option if the woman becomes too dehydrated.

Auckland Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Information

In Chinese Medicine the nausea is said to be caused by rebellious qi (energy flowing in the opposite direction to normal) which interferes with the descending action of the Stomach, leading to nausea and vomiting.  There are two ways in which this rebellious qi is created:

  1. When the blood flows to the foetus there results an insufficient Liver blood and hyperactivity of Liver yang.  Generally the cause if a women has an underlying Liver qi stagnation or blood deficiency prior to pregnancy.
  2. During pregnancy the body continues to send blood down to the uterus, but there is nowhere for the blood to go, since the foetus blocks the uterine gate.  At this stage of pregnancy the foetus is not sufficiently developed to make use of all the blood accumulating in the uterus.  As a result the qi associated with the blood accumulation rebels upwards into the Stomach channel.   Generally the cause if a women has an underlying Stomach/Spleen weakness.

Depending on the diagnosis or underlying cause acupuncture points and, in some cases, Chinese Herbs are selected to correct the energetic imbalance.  Results can be miraculous!

In Part Two of this Acupuncture Auckland article I’ll suggest lots of ideas pregnant morning sickness suffers can try at home to alleviate their symptoms.

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Acupuncture Auckland – Morning Sickness Part 2