Curves and Transitions

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Curves and Transitions, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA


Fall is a time of transitions. Summer ends, school begins, weather fluctuates from crazy hot to cool, and leaves start falling from trees. Sometimes all the transitions come at once and it can feel overwhelming.

The last two years have held a number of transitions for me.  My best friend moved across the country, my father-in-law had a stroke on Labor Day two years ago and passed away six months later, my dog developed lymphoma and died, my older son moved far away from the area, and my daughter moved back home.

Transitions, to me, are like curves in the road.  Unlike a straight path where we can see what’s coming up ahead of us, curves in the road hide the future from us, and sometimes they throw us for a loop.

When I was in acupuncture school, I used to commute back and forth between San Jose and Santa Cruz on Highway 17, a curvy highway that runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It’s a beautiful highway, with redwood trees and rock walls (or cliffs!) on the sides of the road. Because it is often foggy or dark, there is a section where headlights are required. I would often come suddenly across large trucks moving very slowly up the mountain as I rounded a corner.

When you are familiar with the road you are taking, even if it has a lot of curves in it, the path does become easier.  You can anticipate when you need to slow down and when you can go faster, when to move over and when you might come across obstacles.  Highway 17 is where I really learned how to drive; to watch and move with the flow of cars switching lanes and going around the curves.

How do you drive when taking a curve in the road? Do you speed up? Slow down? I need to slow down and focus my attention so that I don’t spin out of control. And I need to lean into the curves. Changing lanes on a curvy road is easier when I lean into the curve, rather than try to move away from it.

The same is true with transitions. A time of transition also requires me to slow down and focus my attention on what is needed next. And just like a curve in the road, I can’t always see what’s coming up around the corner. If I take the curve too quickly, I don’t have time to react if there is an accident or something unexpected in the road.

Unlike doing something from muscle memory, doing something new takes attention and more effort .  The neural pathways are not yet grooves in the road, so to speak.

Because life transitions take so much energy, it can be valuable to ask yourself some questions each day:

  • What am I doing each day that nourishes me? Am I eating foods that sustain me or, am I living off of caffeine and sugar for a quick energy fix?
  • Am I getting sufficient sleep or rest? How can I get in bed earlier or squeeze in a nap?
  • Am I breathing? Am I doing exercise I enjoy?
  • Times of transition are when support is needed the most. Who or what is supporting me?

In addition to nourishing foods, restorative sleep, and enjoyable exercise, I invite you to add regular acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs to your self-care practice as you navigate transitions in your life this fall.

PCOS and Chinese Medicine

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

PCOS and Chinese Medicine, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine and metabolic disorder that affects your ovaries and impacts just about every area of your body and your life. It is characterized by irregular or no periods, enlarged ovaries filled with many small cysts, excess hair growth, acne, and often obesity.

PCOS can start as early as puberty. It affects 5-10% of women of reproductive age and is responsible for 70% of infertility in women who have difficulty ovulating. Women with PCOS have a higher incidence of gestational diabetes, miscarriages, preterm deliveries, and stillbirths. According to some studies, if a mother has PCOS, there is a 50% chance that her daughter will have PCOS too. PCOS often resolves itself as women get closer to menopause.

PCOS is associated with “metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of conditions – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels – that when occurring together, increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. PCOS also increases your risk of endometrial cancer. Early diagnosis and lifestyle changes can help you lower all these risk factors and live a happy, healthier life.

What Causes PCOS?

PCOS is due to an imbalance of hormones, which cause your ovaries to build up too much male hormones (androgens), resulting in a lack of ovulation. It tends to run in families and is often associated with obesity and insulin resistance, although some women may be lean. It may be triggered by exposure to pesticides and environmental toxins, such as dioxin and other xenoestrogens, or hormone disrupters found in food, beauty and cleaning products, and plastics.

You May Have PCOS if You Have...

  • irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • multiple cysts on your ovaries in a "string of pearls” pattern
  • excess hair growth on your face and body
  • acne
  • heavy bleeding
  • weight gain or obesity
  • difficulty losing weight
  • infertility
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • darkened patches of skin or skin tags
  • thinning hair or male pattern baldness
  • fatigue
  • bloating
  • suppressed immune system
  • inflammation
  • decreased sex drive high
  • levels of testosterone

How Is PCOS Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with PCOS using the Rotterdam criteria, you must have 2 of the 3 following symptoms: irregular or absent periods, excess androgens, and polycystic ovaries.

How Does Conventional Medicine Treat PCOS?

Although there is no known cure, PCOS is most often treated with hormones, drugs, diet and exercise, or surgery. Just a 5% drop in weight can lead to normal ovulation. Either electrolysis or laser hair removal is used if you have excess hair growth.

How Can Chinese Medicine Treat PCOS?

Chinese medicine can be very successful in restoring hormonal balance and ovulation in PCOS.

  • Acupuncture reduces appetite, improves metabolism, regulates hormonal balance, improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, and restores healthy body functioning.
  • Chinese herbs reduce fluid, break up stagnation, and resolve underlying patterns of disharmony.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes stabilize blood sugar, calm the adrenals, and support the body’s innate healing wisdom.

How Can You Help Yourself?

  • An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in vegetables to help the body metabolize hormones and normalize elimination.
  • Reduce alcohol and avoid caffeine, soy, flax, legumes, sugar, wheat, gluten, corn, and vegetable oils. Add fish oils, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, fish, grass-fed meats, and pastured eggs. Add non-dairy fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables and/or probiotics.
  • Cut out all forms of refined sugar and carbohydrates: white bread, pasta, white rice, rice cakes, most breakfast cereals, and all starchy, low-fiber foods. Avoid soda, fruit juice, and sweeteners. Limit fruit to one piece per day.
  • No cold, frozen, or raw food or drinks.
  • Moderate exercise to improve blood flow, reduce blood sugar, reduce inflammation, increase endorphins, reduce pain, and improve mood. Avoid swimming and yoga inversions during your period.
  • Regular weekly acupuncture treatment
  • Chinese herbs prescribed by a licensed herbalist
  • Bedtime by 10 pm, turning off screens 1/2 hour before bed. Sleep at least 8-9 hrs.
  • Drink at least 3 liters of water a day.
  • Use a warm castor oil pack on your lower abdomen to activate blood circulation, support the lymphatic system, and balance hormone levels. You can do this 2 to 3 times daily when pre-menstrual and during your period.
  • Maintain a positive attitude – your body is amazing and knows how to heal with just a little help!

Breastfeeding and Chinese Medicine

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Breastfeeding and Chinese Medicine, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

Benefits of Breast Milk

Breast milk is the best source of food and nutrients for babies until six months of age. Not only is it always the perfect temperature and easily digestible, but its composition actually changes over time to meet the changing needs of the growing baby. Breast milk promotes brain development and lowers the risk of allergic reaction. It also contains a lot of antibodies, which can raise a baby’s immunity and lower their chances of developing an infection.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed tend not to have digestive problems and rarely suffer from constipation. They do not need additional water. As babies’ digestive organs are still in the process of developing, solids should be introduced slowly, beginning no earlier than 6 months.

Breastfeed your baby on demand to avoid problems such as engorgement, insufficient milk production, and mastitis.

Mother's Diet

In Chinese culture, the mother’s digestion is considered to be somewhat weak after giving birth. A simple, balanced diet consisting of warm, nourishing, easy-to-digest foods is recommended to help replenish blood and make breast milk. Traditionally, soups and stews are emphasized, and foods or drinks that are cold in temperature should be avoided. Adding a small amount of fresh ginger to soups or steeping and drinking it as a tea can be helpful.

In Chinese medicine, it is believed that hot, spicy, and fried foods should be avoided because they can upset the baby’s digestive system.

Foods to Promote Lactation

  • Drink plenty of water!!
  • Eat organic foods as much as possible
  • Herbal tea, especially mint, rose, and barley
  • Bone-in meats or fish (always organic)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Gelatin (from grass-fed sources) or pig trotters (in a soup) 
  • Sea vegetables for trace minerals
  • Sweet potato 
  • Grains: oats, millet, barley, sweet rice
  • Legumes: adzuki, chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, soybeans
  • Papaya (especially green) - eat one a day, if possible
  • Fennel and fennel seed - increases supply 
  • Coconut water 
  • Young coconut meat
  • Herbs: basil, marjoram, anise, dill, caraway, turmeric (also helps reduce inflammation)

Plugged Ducts

Plugged ducts can show up as pain, tenderness, and warmth in one breast, a hard painful lump that may or may not look red on the surface, and skin irritation. If caught early, mastitis and plugged ducts may be massaged out and treated with hot, moist washcloths and frequent nursing on the affected breast.


Mastitis is an acute infection of the breast accompanied by a fever of 101°F or higher, flu-like symptoms (such as chills, body-aches, and fatigue) or even pus discharge or red streaks extending outward from the affected area.  There is often a rapid onset of symptoms and antibiotics or infection-fighting herbs may be needed.

Plugged Duct Home Treatment

  • Nurse or express milk frequently to avoid letting your breasts become engorged.
  • Gently but firmly massage the lump towards your nipple before and during each feed.
  • Change feeding positions to let gravity help empty the breast. For example, if the blockage is on the armpit area of the left breast, lie on the right side, and lean over to feed the baby from the left breast.
  • Massage the affected breast in a warm shower or try to hand express while under the warm water. 
  • Apply hot, moist compresses to the affected area. 
  • Get plenty of rest, drink sufficient fluids, and wear bras that fit appropriately and provide sufficient support.

Colic Tips

  • Chew a teaspoon of caraway seeds for five minutes, occasionally swallowing the juice. The carminative properties pass through breast milk and reduce infant colic. 
  • Make a tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of either fennel or anise seeds in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and drink.
  • Massage the baby’s abdomen, using gentle, clockwise strokes.
  • Lay the baby on your arm face down, with their legs straddling your elbow and their chin near the palm of your hand. Place your clean thumb in the baby’s mouth, nail side against the baby’s tongue, and allow them to suck it. The pressure from your arm on their belly, along with the sucking, can help expel gas and soothe the baby.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

  • Moxa or “mother warming’ starting at 4-5 days postpartum to warm up a depleted new mom. 
  • Chinese herbs to replenish the body, improve digestion, support milk production, and treat infection.
  • Acupuncture to reduce pain and soreness, improve energy levels, promote lactation, stabilize emotions, balance hormones, and ease recovery from childbirth.

Chinese Medicine Can Treat:

  • birth trauma
  • sore and swollen breasts
  • mastitis
  • insufficient breast milk
  • urinary problems
  • vaginal soreness
  • hemorrhoids
  • constipation
  • edema/water retention
  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • body aches & pains
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • depression

World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

In the Davis area, many women breastfeed their babies and there is a lot of support for it within the local community. That is not the case in many other parts of the US and the world.

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration and awareness campaign highlighting and recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding in communities across the globe. As the greatest outreach vehicle for the breastfeeding movement, WBW aims to bring breastfeeding to the forefront of community agendas so everyone can be part of the dialogue. Now in its 25th year, WBW is celebrated every year from August 1-7 all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding improve the health of babies around the world.

This year's theme is "Sustaining Breastfeeding Together" and education and outreach falls in four thematic areas:

Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction

Nutrition: Breastfed infants are provided with optimal nutrition and protection against infections.
Food security: Breast milk is a safe and secure source of food even in times of humanitarian crises.
Poverty reduction: Breastfeeding is a low cost way of feeding babies without burdening household budgets.

Survival, Health, and Well-Being

Survival: Breastfeeding significantly improves the survival of infants, children and mothers.
Health and well-being: Breastfeeding significantly improves the health, development and well-being of infants and children as well as mothers, both in the short- and long-term.

Environment and Climate Change

Environment: Breast milk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe: produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste.
Climate change: Formula production and consumption generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which accelerate global warming.

Women's Productivity and Employment

Women’s productivity: Employers benefit from having a more contented and productive workforce due to less employee absenteeism, increased loyalty and less staff turnover.
Parental protection and other workplace policies can enable women to combine breastfeeding with paid work.

Over 820,000 children die each year and millions more suffer from avoidable diseases and learning difficulties as a result of suboptimal breastfeeding practices. If even half of all babies under 6 months of age were exclusively breastfed, we would save hundreds of thousands of lives and help protect against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes in mothers across the globe.

Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine

Perimenopause is the period of time during which your body is approaching menopause and can begin approximately 8-13 years prior to your last menstrual period. The number of perimenopausal symptoms you have may vary quite a bit. Often, one of the first symptoms to signal perimenopause is insomnia before your period. Although most people equate hot flashes and night sweats with low estrogen, the process of perimenopause usually begins first with a drop in progesterone.  

What Is Menopause? 

Menopause, often called the “change of life,” is a normal life process, not a disease. The word, “menopause” means “cessation of menses,” and it signals the end of your reproductive years. It happens when your ovaries no longer release an egg every month and your periods stop. Menopause is considered normal when happens after age 40. Prior to that, it is called premature menopause. The average age of menopause in the US is 51. You are considered to be officially in menopause 13 months after your last menstrual period or following surgical removal of your uterus and ovaries. 

Other causes of menopause include hysterectomy, oophorectomy, surgery, autoimmune disorders, or damage to the ovaries from radiation or chemotherapy.

You May Be in Perimenopause if You Have...

  • irregular periods
  • heavy bleeding or scanty bleeding
  • insomnia 
  • fatigue
  • bloating
  • infertility
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • high FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
  • headaches
  • weight gain, especially around the middle
  • anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • heart palpitations
  • joint and muscle aches and pains
  • changes in libido
  • vaginal dryness
  • urine leakage or urgency
  • forgetfulness / brain fog
  • inflammation
    The severity of these symptoms will depend upon your lifestyle and dietary habits throughout your life. Stress is usually the number one hormone disrupter, affecting the entire endocrine system.

The Chinese View of Menopause

In Chinese medicine, women's lives are in cycles of 7. Puberty begins around 2x7 (14) and menopause occurs around 7x7 (49).

Menopause is referred to as a “Second Spring.” It's an opportunity to balance the energies of the body to experience future good health. It's also an opportunity for a rebirth of yourself, for yourself, and is a chance for you to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for a long, healthy life. During this time, you move from the role of caring for others to rediscovering yourself and to sharing the wisdom you’ve gained throughout your life.

There is Hope!

With its long recorded history of safely and effectively treating gynecological conditions, Chinese medicine can be extremely successful in treating the insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, and other uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

  • Acupuncture modulates the nervous system, reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, decreases pain, and restores healthy body functioning. 
  • Chinese herbs balance hormones, calm the spirit, and resolve underlying patterns of disharmony. 
  • Treatment is holistic, individualized, patient-centered, and empowering.

What to Expect from Treatment with Chinese Medicine 

  • gentle, non-invasive, personalized treatment
  • easier periods 
  • improved mood and well-being
  • reduced stress
  • more restful sleep
  • better digestion 
  • more energy, strength, vitality
  • increased libido

Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment may take several months.

Once the causes of your menopause symptoms have been established, a Chinese medicine practitioner will give you advice about specific diet, lifestyle and exercise choices that will best support your body. 

How Can You Help Yourself?

  • Regular weekly acupuncture treatment 
  • Chinese herbs prescribed by a licensed herbalist
  • Moderate exercise to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, increase endorphins, reduce pain, and build bone density, and improve mood. 
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods 
  • Take time each day to relax and enjoy your life
  • Decrease caffeine, alcohol, warm temperatures, hot drinks, and manage stress
  • No cold, frozen, or raw food or drinks. 
  • An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in vegetables to help the body metabolize hormones. Avoid caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates, and vegetable oils. Add fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, grass-fed meats, and pastured eggs.
  • Practice lovingkindness towards your body and yourself.

“Menopause creates the opportunity for a transformation, a new beginning, as a woman becomes free to discover, pursue or complete her life’s mission and touch her spirit—and the spirits of those around her—in a profound and meaningful way.” Nan Lu

Help! It's a Scary World out There!

Help! It's a Scary World out There!, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

Since the election in November, I’ve noticed that people’s anxiety levels are higher than usual. I’ve been doing lots of treatments to calm the spirit, assist sleep, and address trauma.

I do not consider myself someone who suffers from anxiety, but like most people, I’ve experienced it enough to have a few thoughts on how to manage it.

  1. Take a news fast. In February, after being glued to the news on my phone and feeling my own anxiety levels increasing, I got sick. I believe that the news was literally making me sick and that the best way to come back to a place of balance was to do a news fast. I felt much better not being aware of absolutely everything happening in the world. As I began to feel stronger and healthier, I could add small amounts back in.

  2. Come to your senses. Literally. Anxiety is always an emotion about the future. Return to the present moment, focusing on your body’s contact with that which is supporting it (the earth, a chair, a bed). Feel the support that is always being provided to you, at every moment of your life. Notice how you breathe, without even thinking about it. Notice what you see (hear, smell, taste, touch) in front of you, not what’s in your head. Most likely, at this moment, even if it’s not your preference, everything is OK.

  3. Observe and question your thoughts. In my experience, thoughts just arise in my head, without me trying to make them happen. It’s important for me to realize, though, that I don’t have to believe them, just because they happen to be there. I can question them and notice whether I can know “for sure” if the thing I fear is actually going to happen. Most of the time, I can’t.

  4. Focus on solutions, rather than feeling helpless. Be a warrior, not a victim, meaning, focus on what you can realistically do. Take action when it’s appropriate and rest when it’s needed. You are not helpless. You are in this for the long haul, so pace yourself.

  5. You are not alone! The world is full of helpful, kind, loving people. Seek them out.

  6. Find humor. I grew up in a pretty serious family and ended up marrying someone who has a great sense of humor and can use it to defuse situations when I or other people get stuck. Comedy heals and relieves tension. Watch funny movies, do silly things. Most importantly, learn to laugh at yourself and the absurdity of what pops in your head.

  7. Get moving! Be physically active. When we stop moving, it’s easy to feel stuck. Get out in nature. Nature and beauty heal.

  8. Turn inward and outward. Listen to your own inner voice guiding you to appropriate action. Then find others who support you and who are inspired.

  9. Listen to the concerns of those who have differing views. You may be surprised to find that underneath it all, you share common ground and have similar hopes and fears.

  10. Hold onto hope. What we are currently experiencing is not the worst that has happened in history. Remember that everything is temporary, including our fears and anxiety.

  11. Seek another point of view. When I was in high school I had a math teacher who was about 30 year-old and a Buddhist. Unlike most teachers, he did not want us seated according to a seating chart, but rather, he wanted us to sit in different places in the room and near different people every single day, so that we would get a different point of view. It worked, and I still remember it even though I’ve forgotten a lot of other things I learned in the class!

  12. Recognize that even though it might feel like it’s ALL of you, that only a part of you feels anxious. There are other parts of you also feeling other things, such as sadness, fear, anger, happiness, all at the same time. AND, there is an even larger aspect of you that can be present to all of it. This larger part can step back and observe the drama unfolding, without being hooked in. THIS is who you are, not the parts that feels anxious, fearful, angry, etc. The more that you connect with this larger sense of presence, the more easily you will notice emotions arising and dissipating.

Chinese medicine has many treatments available to help “Calm the Spirit” and restore balance to your life, whether it’s a tune-up, regular on-going treatment, or treatment to help resolve trauma.

The group Acupuncturists Without Borders arose after Hurricane Katrina and trains practitioners to go into areas where there has been some sort of disaster and to provide treatment using ear acupuncture to address the after-effects of trauma such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, headaches, and digestive issues. There are groups that also work with veterans using these same techniques. I did this training in 2012.

Pregnancy and Labor Preparation

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Pregnancy and Labor Preparation, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

The Traditional Chinese View of Pregnancy

Chinese culture views pregnancy as a very special time and the concept of fetal “education” or “influence” has been a part of it for more than 3600 years. What you eat, do, and experience not only affects the health of you and your baby, but also that of future generations. For a beautiful, calm child, you are encouraged to look at and listen to beautiful sights and sounds, avoid arguments, and remain calm and peaceful. Regularly spend time in nature. During pregnancy you should take extra care of yourself to avoid future health problems.

Why Acupuncture During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting time, yet at no other time in your life will you undergo such rapid physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. These can cause some discomfort, especially as the baby grows.

Acupuncture provides a safe, medication-free form of relief for most common pregnancy ailments. It is generally recommended that you receive acupuncture as a regular part of your pregnancy wellness – ideally, at least once a month. Licensed acupuncturists are trained to know which acupuncture points are safe during pregnancy.

What Can Acupuncture Help?

1st Trimester

  • Morning sickness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Threatened miscarriage
  • Colds/flu

2nd Trimester

  • Back pain/sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Digestive problems
  • Heartburn
  • Leg cramps
  • Muscle joint pains
  • Pelvic pain

3rd Trimester

  • Aches and pains
  • Edema
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Symphysis pubis pain
  • Breech presentation
  • Delayed labor
  • Labor support

Chinese Pregnancy Tips                

  • Reduce stress and take time to relax daily
  • Cut back on your workload
  • Go to bed early and take naps when tired
  • Connect to your baby in a loving way
  • Listen to classical or calming music
  • Spend time relaxing in nature
  • Reduce exposure to environmental toxins and cell phone use
  • Eat nutritious and easily digestible foods, such as soups and stews
  • Eat in-season vegetables and hormone-free meat when possible
  • Avoid cold and/or raw foods and drinks Avoid hot, spicy, and greasy foods
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana
  • Build up some energy reserves for after the baby is born – you will need them!

Breech Presentation

Babies who are in a breech or transverse position can often be encouraged to move into the correct birth position by the use of moxa or mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) burned near a specific acupuncture point on the baby toe. Studies show that it is about 70% effective when done between 32-36 weeks.

Pre-Birth Acupuncture Treatment

Women who receive regular acupuncture during the third trimester typically have shorter and more productive labors. Research suggests that these pre-birth acupuncture treatments can also reduce the rate of medical interventions such as induction, pain medications, epidurals, and emergency c-sections.

A series of weekly acupuncture treatments beginning at 34-36 weeks is done to prepare your body for efficient labor and childbirth. Acupuncture points are chosen based on your pregnancy history and constitution. These treatments aim to help position the baby optimally for labor, promote energy/stamina, and help ripen the cervix. Depending on your situation, more frequent visits may be recommended.

A Word about Labor “Induction”

Acupuncture does not actually induce labor like the synthetic hormone Pitocin does, but it can help initiate a hormonal process to trigger your body to release its own prostaglandins and oxytocin, which stimulate uterine contractions and soften the cervix. A much gentler and more natural process than using Pitocin, its effects are not instantaneous. Some women only need one or two treatments while others may need several treatments for active labor to start.

Acupressure Points for During Labor

Debra Betts, author of The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth, has generously shared this handout of acupressure points to use for labor on her website.


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