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Final Push: 3rd Trimester Anxiety, Back Pain & Moxibustion


Photo Credit: @brigitalea by @alexwarden_

In the third trimester, it’s time to focus on getting you in a good place for your final push and baby on the way. At this stage, many women come in and seek acupuncture as a treatment for any anxiety that’s manifested, back pains from your growing bump, and for moxibustion as a way to turn your baby out of a breech position. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we look at each holistically and on a deeper level to recommend the best treatment for your specific pattern so you can go on to enjoy your final weeks of pregnancy and look forward to the start of your next chapter.

Anxiety

When treating anxiety in TCM, imbalances in the heart or liver are usually the culprits. We look at your symptoms then recommend treatment from there.

Heart Yin: Your heart yin may need some nourishing if your anxiety is coupled with insomnia, restlessness in the evenings, and feeling hot at night. Yin represents the cooler, night-time energy, and these signs point towards a deficiency.1 In order to replenish your yin, establish a daily routine that involves doing something calming and soothing. This could be anything from watercolor painting, prenatal yoga, journaling, or taking 15 minutes out of your day to stretch. It also helps to avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar.

Liver Qi: When you harbor negative emotions, this can impact the state of your liver’s qi over time and the energy can become stuck. Feeling depressed and irritable are common signs of liver qi stagnation. The stuck liver energy needs to move through the body, whether that’s by active movement or by unleashing those thoughts and emotions. To unleash that stagnant energy, share how you’re feeling with a friend, family member, or therapist. A regular exercise routine may also help you move through that frustration. This can be as simple as going on a walk or getting out in nature, which are extremely grounding practices. Avoid heavy, fried foods, and reduce stimulants like chocolate, coffee, and sweets to help the liver qi flow freely throughout the body.2

Back Pain

If your back is starting to ache right about now, you’re not alone. Low-back and pelvic pain affect 49 to 76 percent of women during pregnancy. The extra weight you’re carrying can put pressure on your back and can impact your posture. As you get closer to your due date, your body will start releasing a hormone called relaxin, which prepares you for your final push. It helps stretch and soften your ligaments, joints, and even your cervix. This rapid stretching can put pressure on your back, hips, and pelvis. 

Acupuncture may help women who have back pain during pregnancy. According to a study by Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica in 2004, acupuncture was considered to be an effective treatment for low-back and pelvis pain during pregnancy in 87 percent of patients.3

Moxibustion

Moxibustion is derived from mugwort leaf, a widely known plant known for its healing properties. Moxibustion therapy is used in acupuncture to help treat a wide variety of disorders. It has the ability to deeply penetrate the meridians of the body. It comes in many forms but the most commonly used in this case is a moxa stick.

During the final weeks of pregnancy, the baby should naturally begin to position itself into a cephalic position where the baby’s head is down. But if the baby is breech, many women seek out an acupuncturist to guide them through at-home moxibustion using a moxa stick. The heat from the burned moxa stick is held near the outer edge of the pinky toe, which is an acupuncture point. This method should be closely monitored by your obstetrician or midwife to ensure the treatment isn’t continued past the point of the baby turning into the correct position.4

Have you used acupuncture to manage any pregnancy symptoms? Share your experience by joining the Perelel community on social or by subscribing to our newsletter.

CAc(Nanjing), M. G. (2005). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists. Second Edition (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone.
Betts, D., Deadman, P., & Heese, I. (2006). The essential guide to acupuncture in pregnancy & childbirth. Hove, East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Kvorning N, Holmberg C, Grennert L, Aberg A, Akeson J. Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2004;83(3):246-250.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.