Acupuncture can be a supportive therapy for postpartum recovery, helping new mothers heal and manage the physical and emotional challenges that often come after childbirth. Some ways in which acupuncture can support postpartum recovery include:
Pain Relief: Many women experience postpartum pain, particularly in the back, hips, and perineal area. Acupuncture can provide natural pain relief and help the body recover from the physical trauma and stress of childbirth. Most notably, the insertion of acupuncture needles at specific points (not always locally) stimulates sensory nerve endings in the skin and muscles. This stimulation sends signals to the brain, which trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Endorphins help to reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.
Hormonal Balance: Acupuncture helps regulate hormonal shifts that occur after childbirth by regulating the Hypothalamic-Pituitary -Ovarian (HPO) and -Adrenal (HPA) axis, supporting the body’s natural recovery process.
Emotional Well-being: Along with the hormonal shifts of childbirth, postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression or anxiety affect many new mothers. Acupuncture helps reduce stress and improve emotional well-being by promoting relaxation and balancing the body's energy. It does this by modulating various neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord including serotonin and norepinephrine, which play roles in mood regulation and pain perception.
Improving Energy Levels: Postpartum fatigue is common due to the demands of caring for a newborn. Acupuncture helps in restoring Qi and Blood to the body, supporting energy levels and combating fatigue.
Physical Recovery: Acupuncture promotes the healing and involution (shrinking) of the uterus, helping it return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly. It can also help treat hemorrhoids, persistent lochial discharge due to placental retention, urinary retention and constipation.
Assisting with Lactation: through hormonal balance and promoting natural Qi flow through the breasts, acupuncture promotes healthy lactation, helps with lactation issues, such as milk production and breastfeeding difficulties. Points related to promoting lactation are used in acupuncture sessions. (While the concept of promoting “Qi flow” may seem obscure, it can be helpful to think of it as clearing obstructions of flow.)