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Acupuncture for Morning Sickness

Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting is a characteristic of the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy. Itis believed to be a bodily reaction to rising levels of either oestrogen or to HCG, and possiblya combination of both. A mild degree of nausea, beginning as early as the fourth week ofgestation is a very common symptom which affects up to 90% of pregnancies. This is oftenworse in the morning, but the term "morning sickness" can be a misnomer, as for somewomen the nausea gets worse as the day goes on. Some women vomit in addition to feelingnauseated. In some, but not all cases, the vomiting can relieve the nausea temporarily.Morning sickness usually ceases to be a problem by the 12-16th week of gestation.

Even without the symptom of vomiting, this condition can be extremely debilitating. Thenausea can dominate the whole day, and can be accompanied by extreme aversions toeveryday foods and smells. Other accompanying symptoms include extreme tiredness, foodcravings and a strange taste in the mouth. In mild cases morning sickness is not believed toaffect the health of the fetus. The conventional treatment of mild morning sickness is usuallyconservative. The mother is advised to eat small meals at regular intervals, and to avoid richfoods. She may be prescribed an anti-emetic drug such as metaclopramide (Maxolon®).

In some rare cases the vomiting can be so severe as to lead to dehydration and exhaustionin the mother. This condition, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, is a serious problem, asthere is a risk that liver damage may ensue when dehydration occurs in pregnancy. Whenthe mother is in a state of dehydration, the health of the fetus is also at risk. Theconventional treatment might involve hospital admission for administration of fluids andintravenous anti-emetic medication such as promethazine. Promethazine is a strong anti-emetic with sedating properties.

In Chinese medicine nausea of pregnancy may have a range of underlying causes. Adeficiency of Stomach and Spleen Qi is usually an underlying factor. Imbalances inthe Liver and Kidney organs will contribute to the symptoms.

The Chong channel is linked with the Stomach channel at St30. If the Stomach Qi is weak, then the accumulated Blood and Qi in the Chong channel can counterflowupwards, so causing nausea and vomiting.

Deficient Kidney Yin can result in rising Yang. This can also result in a counterflow ofStomach Qi. This effect might explain the increased incidence of morning sickness inolder mothers, in multiple pregnancies and in IVF pregnancies.

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