Cara O. Frank L.OM.
Treating women during pregnancy is one of the most joyful aspects of our practice. I even have treatment tables that tilt to ensure their comfort. Yesterday I had the privilege of treating four pregnant women. Most were early on: ranging between 8-14 weeks. This morning I will be treating a woman who is past her due date and wishing for a little “assist.” We call this “Healthy Labor Prep.” It’s not a labor induction. We’re inviting the body to open to labor.
Six Fishes specializes in treating male and female fertility. There are many complex reasons that women have difficulty conceiving and turns out that Chinese Medicine is an outstanding modality for improving rates of conception.
What happens after a woman gets pregnant? It turns out there are many ways that we can support a healthy pregnancy. Detailed treatment manuals exist throughout Chinese medical history. Treatments range from supporting the healthy development of the fetus to managing mild to moderately serious health concerns.
Why did the women I treated schedule yesterday? A range of reasons: One had caught a cold, another has a history of recurrent miscarriage, one was having severe nausea, and the last was dealing with reflux. Two days ago, I treated a woman who had given birth and now had concerns that her milk supply was insufficient.
The woman I am going to treat this morning is perfectly healthy. Because she has advanced maternal age, her physicians have told her that they will induce next week. I cannot begin to express how frustrating this situation is for me as a practitioner. It pathologizes a normal, unfolding process and creates massive anxiety for the parents. Thus, we do everything in our power to help women labor and birth naturally.
In Chinese theory, there are five elements, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. These are natural elements found in nature: they describe cycles of energy, growth, development, and change. They are associated with organs and channels of energy in the body. During pregnancy, the fetus is also is a 10-month process of growth and development that mirrors nature.
Our favorite way to treat women during pregnancy is to treat them at least monthly to support these elements using specific points to nurture the baby’s development. Further, in between trimesters, there is a unique point that we refer to as the “beautiful baby point,” which is thought to enhance the baby’s development. Finally, there are excellent points to use that help prepare a woman’s body for labor and may help to shorten labor. This is a basic template of how we might proceed with a normal, healthy pregnancy. Of course, every woman is an individual and we always assess each person and treat her unique constitution.
What happens if there is a complicating factor?
Here is a shortlist of some of the issues I have handled in the last year or two. Many women conceive easily, yet have a high rate of miscarriage. There can be many reasons for this, however we have a very high success rate of helping women carry to term. One woman I treated had six miscarriages before I treated her. She now has two beautiful children.
Some women develop a kind of intrauterine bruise. It’s called a sub-chorionic hematoma and can result in bleeding and increases the rate of miscarriage. Interestingly, this discussed in a 2000-year-old text. We use small, safe doses of an herbal formula to help resolve the hematoma, thus helping to ensure a safe pregnancy.
Some women retain too much water. This is uncomfortable and can be unsafe. We mainly try to make changes in the woman’s diet for this; however, we use safe diuretic herbs that help to balance body fluids. Some women can develop a dangerous condition where there is excessive amniotic fluid. Again, Chinese dietary therapy can usually handle this efficiently.
While we don’t treat eclampsia, mild hypertension can often be managed well.
We are often asked to turn breech babies using moxibustion on the little toe. My daughter was breech, and we turned her over 29 years ago!
Finally, we love to treat women to help prepare their bodies for labor.
Meanwhile, look at all that we can do to ensure that you have a safe, happy, and healthy pregnancy!
About Cara Frank, L.OM.
Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered. She safely gave birth to her 10.2 boy at home.
Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Acupuncture in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of the office. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.