Acupuncture for postpartum depression and anxiety

“If you have suffered from anxiety before pregnancy or are experiencing it now for the first time, there is help for you.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offers great relief of the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.  This comes as a surprise to many people but there is actually nothing in an acupuncture needle- it works with your body’s innate healing wisdom to regulate your nervous system and enhance blood flow to bring you to a place of calm, inner peace, and strength.” Miriam Pineles
Perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety are more common than most people think.  Exact numbers are hard to come by because these mood disorders are under-reported.  New parents can struggle to name what they are feeling or to find the energy to find help.  It is important as a new parent to remember you are not alone and that there are many resources and sympathetic professionals ready to help you.
There are multiple options available to treat perinatal and postpartum anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. These options include both medical treatments and natural or alternative treatments. Your doctor or a licensed therapist are always the best place to start to identify your mood disorder and assess treatment options.
Acupuncture is a natural treatment option for perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety that many new and expecting parents (both men and women can suffer from postpartum depression) are not aware of.  Continue reading to learn more about how acupuncture can help you.
We spoke with Miriam Pineles, a doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine, to answer some of our most burning questions about acupuncture for pregnancy-related mood disorders.

How will I know if I have pregnancy related anxiety and depression?

If you experience anxiety and depression for the first time in pregnancy, your symptoms may be due to a hormonal imbalance.  Symptoms may also arise with heavy stress in your life related to work, relationships, or the life-transition you are immersed in as a pregnant woman.  

How can a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and/or acupuncturist help me?

A practitioner of Chinese medicine can help you by getting to the root cause of your anxiety and depression.  Once your symptoms are accurately diagnosed, there are a multitude of ways an acupuncturist can support and help you.  Modalities used are acupuncture, herbal medicine, and diet and lifestyle modifications. 

How does acupuncture work? Will I feel results right away?

Acupuncture offers relief of symptoms within seconds of the needle’s insertion.  It’s that fast!  Depending on the severity of the condition, a treatment will last a woman 2-3 days or 5-7 days. Treatment involves a woman laying down on her back or left-side (depending on the stage of pregnancy), and needles are inserted in the arms and legs- never near the belly or lower back.  The needles are the size of a few hairs and you often cannot feel them go in.  The treatment lasts 30-40 minutes and all women become extremely relaxed, and even sleep through the treatment. 

How often should I see my specialist before and after the birth?

Your practitioner will create a customized treatment plan for you.  Many women come in for acupuncture once a week throughout their pregnancy, while others come in as symptoms arise.  To prepare for labor, a women should be seen regularly starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Do I need to find a specialist, or do all acupuncturists understand the needs of a new or pregnant mother? 

You do not need to find an acupuncturist who specializes in pregnancy, because all acupuncturists are trained to treat pregnant women.  However, you may feel more comfortable seeing a practitioner who has a lot of experience with your particular concern.

I have been on anti-depressant medication for years; is it safe to try acupuncture?

Absolutely!  Acupuncture is safe to use with any medication and does not have any side-effects. 

How else can an acupuncturist help me with my labor preparations and postpartum recovery?

Research has shown that receiving regular acupuncture in the weeks leading up to your due date can reduce labor-time by several hours.  It can also help you to get into labor before the 41-42-week deadline.  This is achieved through enhancing blood-flow and relaxing muscles and tendons.  Acupuncture and Herbal medicine is also a way to alleviate post-postpartum anxiety and depression by regulating a woman’s nervous system, hormonal balance and strengthening her.

About Miriam

Miriam Pineles is a doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine and runs the Conscious Health and Wellness Clinic in Midtown, Manhattan. 

She believes life is a gift and should be well-lived, and she strives to get her patients well quickly! 

Miriam specializes in Women’s health concerns, particularly infertility and Mental health, and also treats Pain, Insomnia, Migraines, Allergies, IBS, and Pregnancy-related concerns. Her clinic accepts Health insurance.