What a breath of fresh air.
I have been bringing my acupuncture and massage experience to the birthing arena. Using ‘tacks’ (small bits of surgical tape with a 1.5mm long needle on a loop), I needle points specific to harmonizing contractions, improving the efficacy of contractions, helping the cervix to fully efface and dilate, decreasing perceived pressure and pain, and increasing a sense of well-being and trust to the mother. I treat during and between contractions with pressure on the needles and massage to help the patient stay present and comfortable as much as possible. Creating impulses of pressure and sensation can override the pain messages from the brain, making the discomfort of labor more tolerable.
So far I have been reasonably well received by the staff and doctors at the hospitals I have been to. One particular hospital in the Bay Area that I was blown away by was Kaiser in Walnut Creek. In the Labor & Delivery ward, the only men I saw were Dads. If you were a patient with an uncomplicated or low-risk pregnancy, you had a nurse-midwife and other L&D nurses. The staff OB poked her head in to say hello, but let us know that we probably wouldn’t see her again. My patients’ birth plan was totally respected, her wishes granted, and no agenda was pushed. My patient only wanted a saline lock, no IV, no problem. As long as she drank her water and stayed hydrated, there was no need to tie her up to an IV stand where it becomes more difficult to move freely. Movement, like massage and needling, is also one of those messages that interrupts and lessens the perception of pain in the brain. She was monitored intermittently so again she wasn’t tied up to a machine. The nurses and the midwife were interested in what my acupuncture and massage were doing to help the patient and no hairy eyeballs were sent my way.
The birth was entirely in the hands of the patient. She was never made to feel like there was a particular way to do it nor a particular time frame she had to fit in. No one came in pushing an epidural or pitocin. No one came in warning about a C-section. I do realize that these are occassionally necessary, but not all the time and not for everyone. It was really nice to see such a supportive staff to the mother and her intents to do things naturally. The midwife who delivered my patients’ daughter had delivered over 2000 babies. She was such a wise, calm presence. I think this also hugely affects the outcome of an experience such as childbirth. If the support people are calm and trusting of the process, the mother will feel safer in letting herself open up to the experience, physically and mentally. There was no rolling eyes at a ‘hippie dippie’ approach to life or birth. There was no fear factor of eminent interference in the most perfected biological process in the human condition. Look around.. there is a reason why there are billions of people on the planet.
The Papa-to-be was incredible. He stayed with his wife through each contraction. He kept her present and did not let her be swept away or overcome by discomfort. The support he offered her was truly moving. I try not to get choked up at work, but man, the love between them was amazing!