Notes From a Portland Acupuncturist: What to Do when Pregnancy Sucks

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How Having a Terrible Pregnancy Made Me a Better Acupuncturist

Some women have a pregnant glow. You hear about it. You read about it. TV makes you Acupuncture for Pregnancythink that is the norm. I even had it with my first pregnancy — I thought I was a life-creating goddess. Then came pregnancy number two. It was awful. I knew I was pregnant even before I took a test because I started having anxiety attacks which had been absent for 12 years.

Kim Kardashian has been very vocal about how much she dislikes pregnancy, and while I usually don’t put a whole lot of time into thinking about Kim K., I am grateful for her honesty. She is so real about it, and women need to hear that pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows for everyone. Kim said, “For me, pregnancy is the worst experience of my life!” And although old me would have thought she was a drama queen, the older, wiser, bad-pregnancy-having me silently thanks her for sharing.

Here’s the thing:

Hating pregnancy does not make you a bad mom.

It won’t even screw up your kid. There’s plenty that you will do to screw up your kid, but trust me, this isn’t one of them. Kim listed a few common pregnancy complaints to explain why she might hate being pregnant: swelling, back aches, weight gain, just feeling like you aren’t you anymore.

What about you? What makes your pregnancy awful?

For me, it was mostly the anxiety attacks. I also had wicked nausea, which was made much worse by my insomnia, which was made much worse by the anxiety. It was quite the vicious circle, and all three of them were really good at feeding each other. I was working this whole time, and would go in with a patient, do a treatment, then leave the room and lie on the break room floor just to try to calm the nausea for a few minutes and gather some strength to go back in to see another patient.

Finally, finally, I tried what has always worked for me before (hint: it won’t be a shock!): acupuncture and herbs.

I got an insomnia formula made (safe for pregnancy, and doesn’t make you do crazy things like Ambien does), and started getting acupuncture regularly. Then I started sleeping, which went a long way to calming the nausea. I had to keep the acupuncture up for the remainder of my pregnancy, because it kept the anxiety from taking over. Without the acupuncture, I would certainly have had to take medication.

Even though I got help, I never felt that glow of the first pregnancy, and OH! the guilt! I wanted this!

I treat women for infertility, and here I was, pregnant and hating it.

It scared me how bad I felt. I also felt intense guilt because when I was pregnant with my first, all I did was bond with the baby. I took prenatal yoga, kept a detailed pregnancy journal, talked to the baby. Every moment of my day part of my brain was consumed with thoughts of the baby. With this second baby (already having to lose out on being the “only”), I felt like I couldn’t even bond with him because I was so anxious and sick.

Of course, eventually he was born. My recovery was easy. He was an easy, content baby — the kind you hear about other people having. My anxiety instantly went away as the hormones shifted. And an amazing thing happened: I discovered that having that awful pregnancy made me a better practitioner. 

I finally understood my patients who were pregnant and wanted nothing more than for their pregnancies to be over. Finally, I listened with understanding.

I finally understood the devastation of wanting to enjoy your pregnancy when the reality is that you don’t.

It feels like you are wasting something precious. You already feel like a failure as a mother.

I can tell you, none of those things are true.

Some people have blissful pregnancies, but many people do not. But I do want you to know that there are many safe ways to deal with the negatives of pregnancy. If you come to my office, you will not be judged. You will not be made to feel bad, nor will you be told that this is just part of pregnancy and to just deal with it. We will work together to come up with a plan so that your pregnancy can be more enjoyable. So that you can make some beautiful memories. It’s about knowing that there are options, alternatives. Acupuncture, herbs, counseling, yoga — all of these things can make a huge difference in your pregnancy. You deserve to enjoy being pregnant.


If you are ready to start enjoying your pregnancy (or at least not hate it so much), click on the link to schedule your free consultation or new patient appointment.