The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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More pregnant women are turning to “complementary and alternative
medicine” (CAM) for what ails them. The problem is, “natural” doesn’t always equal effective or safe. The following information on six of the most common therapies is, by necessity, general. Before using any alternative treatment, check with your physician.
What it is Stimulation of a variety of points in the body using fine needles to bring the flow of the body’s energy, or chi (also spelled qi), into harmony.
What it’s good for The National Institutes of Health found evidence that acupuncture eases nausea and vomiting. It also seems to be safe and effective for back and pelvic pain, edema (swelling) and pain relief during labor.
Safety issues Stimulation of certain points, such as the large intestine and spleen, should absolutely be avoided during pregnancy, as it could bring on labor.
How to find a practitioner Choose a certified practitioner with an L.Ac., R.A.C., A.P. or D.O.M. credential and experience treating pregnant women. The Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance, 253-851-6896, www.acupuncturealliance.org.
What it is The use of pure essential oils (for topical application, i.e., massage, bathing, foot baths or inhalation) for their healing and therapeutic properties.
What it’s good for For nausea: ginger, sweet orange, peppermint. For edema: lavender. To induce slumber: lavender, sweet orange, roman chamomile. To elevate mood: lemon, grapefruit, petitgrain.
Safety issues Many oils, including clary sage, fennel, juniper, melissa (the botanical name for lemon balm, which is different from lemon essential oil), myrrh and Virginian cedarwood should not be used during pregnancy. Consult a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils. Even “safe” oils can cause skin irritation or allergy, so test them in small amounts first; one or two drops of oil for any use is best.
How to find a practitioner Choose a registered aromatherapist (R.A.) or someone certified with advanced training in aromatherapy. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, 509-325-3419, www.naha.org.
What it is Manipulation of joints (especially those in the spine) and adjacent tissues to relax muscles and alleviate pain.
What it’s good for Lower-back pain brought on by weight gain and during late pregnancy, when the baby’s head presses on the back, irritating the sciatic nerve.