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This uses fine needles placed at specific points on the body to reduce pain by stimulating the production of endorphins. Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine that believes there are channels within the body through which energy, or "chi" runs. Blockages can occur in these channels, and so by inserting needles at certain points, energy is unblocked, relieving pain and restoring balance to the body. Many women find acupuncture helpful to treat mild pregnancy symptoms, and some women use this therapy during labor. Acupuncture has no harmful side effects for the mother or baby and in labor, needles will usually be inserted in points that do not restrict your movement, for example in the ear. If you want to have acupuncture during labor, you will need to look for an acupuncturist who specializes in this area and arrange to have him or her with you during labor.
This is based on the principle of treating like with like. Talk to your doctor before using any homeopathic products during pregnancy or labor, since homeopathy is an area of complementary and alternative medicine that's associated with much debate and scientific controversy. If your doctor gives you the okay, a certified homeopath can prescribe remedies based on your individual needs. There is a lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy, although many women find the remedies helpful.
Aromatherapy (essential) oils are derived from plants and used for their therapeutic properties. The use of these oils in childbirth can stimulate, refresh, and soothe you and to some extent your partner. There is some evidence that oils, such as lavender, reduce anxiety in labor, which in turn helps you cope with pain. Hot and cold compresses with essential oils added to the water used to wet the cloth can be soothing and massaging diluted essential oils (in a carrier oil) into the skin is therapeutic. Many experts recommend against aromatherapy during pregnancy and labor because some scents may be hazardous to pregnant women. The effects of most plant oils on pregnant women is unknown.
Reflexology involves massaging reflex zones on your feet that correspond with different parts of your body to improve your blood circulation and relax any tension you may be feeling. Reflexology is gaining some popularity as a coping technique in the early stages of labor. However, because many women naturally want to be active and move around during their labor, this may be more helpful in between early contractions.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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