You may be surprised that this former fertility-drug-injecting mom will go out of her way NOT to take an over-the-counter pain reliever for a headache. “What? Who does that? Just pop the Tylenol already!” That’s probably what you’re thinking. But for me, when it came to having a second child, desperate needs called for desperate measures, and I said, yes, to the fertility drug treatments (see “I’ve Got the Magic in Me”). But, in everyday reality, I have recently tried to avoid taking medicine when I can, even if it’s just popping an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Why? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because I have faith in my body that it can handle whatever everyday ailment is thrown at it, or that in my own mind overcoming it on my own will make my immune system stronger. Maybe it’s even just a residual mental side effect of the popular “Just Say No” to drugs campaign in the 1980s . But seriously, I am lucky to find that most of my ailments are short-lived and rest or hydration does the job. But, that’s not always the case…
So, what’s a girl to do when she’s 5 months pregnant, suffering in pain from pregnancy-induced sciatica in her left leg, her right arm hurts (probably from too much blogging, ugh!) and has a full-blown cold? And, she still needs to take care of a 3-year-old child who happens to be off from preschool the same week? Enter the world of acupuncture.
I don’t know exactly how it works or why it works, but for me, I can tell you it just works. I started acupuncture when I was having difficulty getting pregnant with my second child. I started going for myself, and I really felt great for it. In my case, it couldn’t help with my fertility because our issue was chromosomal on my husband’s side. But, it did help get me through the mental ups and downs of infertility disappointment. And, I also had treatments during our one IVF cycle, which was successful.
According to the National Institute of Health, “Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. As part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. In the United States, where practitioners incorporate healing traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries, acupuncture is considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).”
But, how does it work? I’ll give you the eastern medicine explanation found on howdoesacupuncturework.com: “Among the major assumptions in TCM are that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”, meaning vital energy) along pathways known as meridians.
TCM theorizes that it is essential for qi, as well as blood to circulate in a continuous and unobstructed manner for good health of the mind and body. Acupuncture meridians or channels are the pathways through which the energy flows throughout the body.”
So, what is a treatment like? From my experience, first, you take off your shoes and socks and roll your pant legs up to your knees. Then you lie back on a table with a bolster under your legs. The Acupuncturist (I use Dr. Leslie Castellini in Red Bank, NJ and I love her!) then evaluates your health and suggests a treatment, which is a specific placement of the thinnest needles you’ve ever seen.
Do the needles hurt? No. Some may pinch the tiniest bit, but really, I find they don’t hurt at all. Then, the lights are dimmed, the acupuncturist exits the room, closes the door, and you have about 20 minutes of solitude all to yourself. That’s right, moms. A full 20 minutes of no filling sippy cups, no changing diapers, no one to worry about, but you. So, I lay back and relax. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I don’t. I feel doubly good because not only am I relaxing, but I’m also doing something beneficial for my body.
So, how exactly has acupuncture helped me? Headaches. It’s made them disappear. And, if I’m feeling down, I feel a certain positive “lift” in my head after a treatment. I thought that one was literally in my head at first, until it happened repetitively.
Sinuses. In times of allergies or colds my sinuses begin to drain at night when I sleep after a treatment. I can’t even get the best over-the-counter sinus medicine to do that for me.
Pain. So far, it’s speeding up the recovery of my sciatica, and I can actually type in this article using both hands the next day!
IVF. Unlike the headaches and the sinus troubles, where acupuncture has repetitively helped me, I can honestly say that I’ve only done IVF once. I don’t have enough personal statistical data on this one, but I did get lucky to get pregnant on my first go. Was it because of the acupuncture? That’s tough for me to prove in my experience, but I can definitely tell you that if I was to do IVF again, there is no way that I’m going to risk trying it without acupuncture for the sake of gathering statistics!
Now can acupuncture help me through the pain of child-birth? I really don’t know. I will definitely schedule my treatments around my March due date and make it a part of my birth plan. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it! But, for everyday ailments right now, acupuncture is my go-to non-drug.
Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to various health treatments in general. And, remember not to try any type of alternative medicine practice without consulting a physician first. But, if you do find yourself on the acupuncture table one day, keep in mind that it often requires more than one try to work. Your qi most likely won’t be in harmony on your first attempt.
But, when I do somehow seem to get my qi in harmony, I enjoy the benefits. So, hold the everyday drugs for this mom, when possible. I’ve gone alternative. Alternative medicine, that is.
Photo credit to Photobucket.