Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension is a rare, but vitally important treatment. It is estimated that only 2.5-3% of pregnant women suffer from Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH), but as we’ll see in a moment it is an extremely serious complication.
PIH, is a term used in western medicine to describe elevated levels of blood pressure during pregnancy. There are also a variety of accompanying symptoms such as Oedema (read my Oedema article here), and protein in the urine. This is a carefully monitored situation as it is also known as preeclampsia – the precursor to Eclampsia, a condition that leads to convulsions that can cause maternal and foetal death. Luckily Eclampsia is very rare today thanks to the advances in antenatal care and medical inductions.
Of course women previously suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) can also become pregnant and they are often carefully monitored to ensure that there is no risk or further developments. Obviously, Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments can help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure prior to pregnancy.
Some of warning signs of possible increases risk of preeclampsia include a severe headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. If any of these symptoms are present I strongly urge you to speak to your doctor or midwife immediately.
As mentioned above there are a number of indicators used to determine if Hypertension is an issue and the first of these is Blood Pressure. On the first antenatal visit a woman’s blood pressure is first taken – this is considered a baseline reading – if there is a history of high blood pressure this will be taken into account. From this first baseline reading any changes will be assessed – for instance if the systolic pressure (the top figure) is 30mmg higher or the bottom reading is 15mmg higher then this is usually a cause for concern.
Another test often conducted is protein analysis in the urine. This is measured by a color changes on a dipstick. While it is normal that some protein exist in the urine, excess amounts indicate a potential problem. Oedema is another indicator used to assess PIH. It is normal to experience some accumulation of fluid in the ankles and fingers (read my Oedema article for more), however any significant increases particularly in the hands and face accompanied by any sudden weight gain may be a potential sign of Preeclampsia.
If there is a suspicion of preeclampsia then a series of blood tests will be run. These tests focus on elevated liver enzymes particularly, ALT, raised uric levels and a low platelet count.
Unfortunately the standard western medical approach is to simply suggest rest and they continue to monitor the symptoms. If the symptoms continue then patients are generally hospitalized and in some cases the baby can be induced early. I’m personally not a fan of a wait and see approach, particularly when better options, such as Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments have been shown to be so successful at offering a proactive solution to High Blood Pressure and the risk of Eclampsia. In fact one study showed that such treatments were 96.25% more effective than any other.
Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. (2008 Feb;28(2):156-8, Zhang XB, Shen SC).conducted a study to probe into an effective method for treatment of hypertension. Eighty cases received Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments. Forty-eight were markedly effective, 29 cases were effective, 3 cases were ineffective, with a total effective rate of 96.25%.
This is just one example of the thousands of studies conducted each year that verify and confirm such findings. I’ve seen it first hand in my own practice.
The Chinese Medical texts that go back thousands of years, list a number of conditions relating to “convulsions in pregnancy” and describe patterns of Liver Wind (a descriptive diagnosis – wind blows wildly around the world shaking trees and causing movement in unpredictable patterns – in the case of the human body this is indicative of unpredictable and sudden movement that may be experienced as convulsions), or phlegm fire agitating upwards (another descriptive diagnosis referring to increases in pressure – think of thermometer with the red mercury rising due to heat, and you get the idea). These patterns traditionally paint a picture of Eclampsia and are a great influence in current Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments.
More modern medical texts however speak very little of PIH, the reason being that it is more often than not entirely preventable using Acupuncture. Pre-cursors and subtle indicators such as Oedema and dizziness often present long before PIH and are treated and resolved, thus ensuring that PIH never becomes an issue, Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments providing a pre-emptive strike against the development of such conditions.
The important factor is that the early symptoms are noticed and treatment begun the greater the chance of resolving the issue. I always encourage you to work closely with your doctor and midwife whom can monitor the results of treatment and your blood pressure. This is not just in case immediate intervention may be necessary, but also because it accurately and independently illustrates a positive drop in blood pressure readings. I generally treat patients presenting with PIH or related symptoms twice a week until blood pressure readings have stabilized, and this generally occurs within 1-2 weeks, with a follow up every 4 weeks thereafter to maintain the result.
In addition to the effectiveness of Acupuncture however, I also make a number of additional recommendations regarding diet and lifestyle, such as taking time out to enjoy restful music or read a good book for a few hours a day, in particular around 1-3pm. Diet is also an important factor and foods such as eggs with parsley, chicken casseroles and dried apricots and grapes are particularly useful for strengthening the blood.
Avoiding caffeine, not just in coffee, but in chocolate, energy drinks etc is an excellent idea, as is engaging in relaxing activity such as Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. If the Liver is involved I’d also recommend taking a look at some of the issues that may be playing on the mind and concerns about preparation for the birth, work, your partner etc. Such concerns are very common, but are better expressed and discussed then kept in and causing high blood pressure.
If you are pregnant and are suffering from high blood pressure, or symptoms such as oedema, headaches, etc I strongly encourage you to undergo Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatments to relieve any unconscious stresses and help encourage your blood pressure to lower and stabilize.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Hypertension treatment protocols that I provide or wish to start a course of treatment then please feel free to contact me or make an appointment where we can discuss any specific concerns or questions you may have.