» Acupuncture for Postpartum Depression

Acupuncture for Postpartum Depression

By Emily A. Pendergast, L.Ac, MAOM

In China, the first few weeks after childbirth are called “chan ru.” Chan means childbirth, and Ru means mattress. In traditional Chinese culture, women were prescribed bed rest for one month after childbirth. Female relatives would take care of both the new mother and the baby, allowing the new mother to restore her strength and energy. Specific herbal prescriptions were given to help shrink the uterus, stop bleeding, encourage lactation, and return vitality. In today’s fast-paced society, few new mothers have the luxury of resting for a month after childbirth. Most women need to return to taking care of family or work before their bodies have had a chance to fully recover from the birth experience. This can lead to further health issues down the road, and is why acupuncture during the postpartum period is so important. [1]

Introduction

It is now recognized that 80% of women experience sadness, anger, or other mood and personality changes following childbirth, known as postpartum depression. This alone can cause increased guilt, worry, and anxiety in women, as they feel they are not “cut out” to be a good mother. Many women are unaware how common these feelings and symptoms can be, or that there is support for them. Acupuncture offers drug-free treatment to women and has the ability to address symptoms specific to each individual woman. Natural treatment is especially crucial for those women wanting to breast feed, as previous treatment for postpartum depression has been through medication. Acupuncture can also be used to help the spouse manage emotional symptoms that they too may be experiencing at this time.

Acupuncture for Postpartum Support

Acupuncture is extremely beneficial in addressing emotional symptoms, whether these symptoms are a result of hormonal changes, concerns or fears that come with being a new mom, lack of support, or other causes; acupuncture can help. Treatment can also help the body naturally regain hormonal balance as well as vital energy that may be lost or changed through the process of childbirth. Nutrition is also an important factor that women should be advised on in order to help prevent, or to help treat postpartum depression. Specific dietary changes can help maintain mood swings, increase energy and vitality, and aid in hormonal balance. Nutritional advice is commonly an integral part of acupuncture treatment.

Studies have shown that women experiencing postpartum depression had significantly higher response rates when receiving acupuncture (69%) over other modalities of non-pharmaceutical treatment (32%).[2] The acupuncture control group had an intermediate response of (47%).  It is also suggested that acupuncture may help in preventing the onset of postpartum depression.[3]

Below is list of specific symptoms that acupuncture can address regarding postpartum depression, as well as other accompanying symptoms following childbirth.

Emotional support[4]:

Overall hormonal balance

Sadness

Anger/irritability

Impatience

Worry

Anxiety

Pensiveness/Over thinking

Stress relief

Fatigue

Insomnia/dream-disturbed sleep

Frequent mood changes

Chest restriction/heart palpitations

Other Postpartum Symptoms

Low back pain

Perineal pain

Headaches

Abdominal pain

Lochial Retention

Lack of Appetite

Mastitis

Lactation support

Conclusion

While a large majority of the female population experience symptoms of postpartum depression to some extent, it is critical that women know they are not alone, and that there is help and support for available for them. The first step is helping women recognize the symptoms, so they know when to seek support.  The next step is providing the support. Acupuncture is one modality that is effective and natural in treating, preventing, and supporting women through postpartum depression.

To Book an appointment with Emily please call (207)451-0769 or book online at http://www.healinghandsnh.com/acupuncture_book.html. Affordable Express Clinic appointments available too.

Sources Cited

Betts, Debra (2006). The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth. The Journal of Chinese Medicine, Ltd. East Sussex, England, p203.

Ignatovsky, Cindi, L.Ac. Postpartum Treatment. http://www.acupunctureatlanta.net/preg.php#postp

Manber R, Schnyer RN, Allen JJ, Rush AJ, Blasey CM. 2004. Acupuncture: a promising treatment for depression during pregnancy. J Affect Disord 83:89-95.

3 Nonacs, Ruta MD PhD. Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy. http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/posts/acupuncture-for-depression-during-pregnancy/. Published Feb. 15, 2005.


[1] Ignatovsky, Cindi, L.Ac. Postpartum Treatment. http://www.acupunctureatlanta.net/preg.php#postp

[2] Manber R, Schnyer RN, Allen JJ, Rush AJ, Blasey CM. 2004. Acupuncture: a promising treatment for depression during pregnancy. J Affect Disord 83:89-95.

[3] Nonacs, Ruta MD PhD. Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy. http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/posts/acupuncture-for-depression-during-pregnancy/. Feb. 15, 2005.

[4] Betts, Debra (2006). The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth. The Journal of Chinese Medicine, Ltd. East Sussex, England, p203.



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