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I have a fertility-turned-obstetric patient who just emailed me to cancel her appointment for this morning. She was in labor and wouldn’t be needing an induction treatment as we had planned. This is someone who had faithfully come in for treatment throughout her pregnancy, and to whom we applied pre-birth acupuncture from week 36 on. She went into labor 5 days after her due date.

This is typical of primigravidas (first time moms). Having pre-birth acupuncture most typically results in babies that come during the 40th-41st weeks. Rarely do I see those who come in weekly for this treatment get to week 42. The protocol is simple, and the hour spent in session gives the mom some much needed self-care time. Not only is the pre-birth acupuncture helpful for getting labor going in due time, but it has also been shown to reduce the overall time in early labor by an average of 2 hours. 2 hours might not sound like a lot, but believe me, to a woman in labor it is significant. In addition, there is strong anecdotal evidence that women who receive pre-birth acupuncture require less medical intervention during labor than women who do not. I encourage all of my obstetric patients to come in once a week from week 36 to week 41. Once we pass week 41, we can apply a stronger induction-style treatment 3 times in a week as these moms may be facing a decision to medically induce with Pitocin should they reach week 42. I do not actively induce moms before their due dates, and I find that those who receive pre-birth treatment rarely require it.

For acupuncturists interested in incorporating the pre-birth protocol into their obstetric practice, I use the following points as a base of treatment, and add any points that I feel will benefit the particular patient depending on other symptoms present and using a differential diagnosis.

Weesk 36-38: (using no stimulation) GB34, ST36, Sp6 (if there is a history of rapid uncontrolled labor, substitue with Ki8), Bl62, yin tang. If the baby’s position is not optimal, add Bl67 and Bl60

Weeks 38-40: (using no stimulation) GB34, St36, Sp6, Bl62 (again, add Bl67 and Bl60 if needed), yin tang, GB21

Week 41: (using strong stimulation) GB34, St36, Sp6, Bl62 Bl60,, Bl67, yin tang, GB21, LI4 Bl31, Bl32

These points can all be needled bilaterally in a seated position, or unilaterally in a side-lying position. I favor side-lying as many moms become quite relaxed and meditative.




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There are many new books being published about fertility and Chinese Medicine. I have read most of them and find that most offer fairly accurate advice and expectations when using Chinese Medicine for fertility. I certainly think it’s helpful for women to have a basic understanding about how the medicine works, how we diagnose, basic nutritional advice. However, I think it is risky to follow advice about taking herbs or supplements from a book without seeing a professional trained in herbal or Naturopathic medicine. The author of a book has no way of knowing your particular set of circumstances and health make-up.

Here’s an example: In the book The Tao of Fertility, the author, Daoshing Ni gives a group of supplements that he recommends for women trying to get pregnant. These include high quality fish oil, B12, B6, Folic Acid and the amino acids L-carnitine and L-arginine. Now, it may be the author’s experience that most women respond well to these supplements, and I would agree that fish oil and B vitamins are essential for every woman. However, supplementing L-carnitine and L-arginine can have detrimental effects in some women including: low blood pressure, bleeding disorders, nausea and low blood sugar. These amino acids can be found in foods, and eating a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, legumes and lean meats will provide adequate quantities of both without the unnecessary risks of side effects from supplementation.

When considering any supplementation outside of a basic multi-vitamin, fish oil, and probiotics, supplements and herbs are best taken with the guidance of a Naturopath or herbalist who knows your personal health history and knows any pharmaceuticals that you are taking.  This ensures that what you are taking is tailored to what YOUR body needs, not general advice that doesn’t take your set of circumstances into account.

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About 12 years ago I took a trip to Belize. While there, I took an excursion out to the western part of the country to the herbal sanctuary of Dr. Rosita Arvigo who apprenticed with and then took over the Mayan herbal practice of a Shaman in the area. Dr. Arvigo was also trained in an ancient form of massage practiced by the Mayans in the region of Belize, Costa Rica and Mexico coined Maya Abdominal Massage, or MAM. The technique involves deep work that focuses on the abdomen and the lower back. I was first introduced to this treatment in Belize and am excited to find that it is now available in the states. Abdominal organs are gently lifted and shifted and circulation is improved. This particular type of massage is ideal for women suffering from any kind of gynecological or digestive complaint including: unexplained infertility, cramps, spotting, irregular cycles, frequent UTI’s or yeast infections, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, IBS, constipation and many more. In addition to massage, the tradition utilizes several techniques to increase blood, lymph and nerve flow in the abdomen including herbal sitz baths, castor oil packs, and self massage. I think this type of treatment is a wonderful adjunct to acupuncture for all of the previously mentioned ailments.

I am excited to introduce everyone to a practitioner IN MY BUILDING who has personally trained with Dr. Rosita Arvigo and will soon be certified in MAM. She is a lovely person and all the patients I have sent her way have been extremely satisfied with her treatments and their outcomes.

If you are interested in this technique I encourage you to contact Ishell Neville through her website: www.ishellneville.com.

To learn more about Maya Abdominal Massage and Dr. Rosita Arvigo, visit  https://arvigotherapy.com/

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