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Try acupuncture to help reduce postpartum pain

Updated: Mar 8


Postpartum back pain

The body goes through transformation during pregnancy and needs to change back to normal after delivery. Postpartum back pain is very common. For some women, back pain started during the pregnancy and continues after delivery.

Your body goes through quite a transformation during and after pregnancy. Your entire lifecycle changes while you are carrying a baby, be it your sleeping pattern, your posture, the way you walk, mood swings; and the list goes on!

This lower back pain after delivery can also hinder the recovery, making it difficult to move or even sit for long.

The main cause of back pain is hormones. Your body releases progesterone and relaxing hormones during pregnancy which relaxes the ligaments and joints of the pelvis, for easing out the baby during delivery. As these hormones stay with you for a few more months, the ligaments and joints need to return to normal. Changes of posture during pregnancy such as posture for sleeping, standing walking causes back pain and sudden changes after delivery. Putting on weight during pregnancy is extra work for the joints and muscles. The expansion of the uterus during pregnancy causes additional strain on the lower abdominal muscles and lower back. Pushing the baby out could strain muscles and ligaments. Sleepless nights post-delivery, bending, and lifting the baby frequently add extra stress to the back. Incorrect posture while breastfeeding the baby can cause stress on the lower back muscles. Additional physically strenuous work during or after pregnancy could a contributor to the back pain.

Postpartum pelvic pain

Genital pain and pelvic pain are common in the early postpartum period and the pain can last much longer. Hip bone, pubic bone and sacrum form pelvic bone which surrounded by ligaments and tendons. Pregnancy and childbirth can damage the soft tissues including muscles and connective tissue of the pelvis, causing pelvic pain for women after they give birth. The clinically persistent pelvic pain from the postpartum stage to 2 years after childbirth has a reported incidence of 5% to 8.5%. A research involved in 114 participants, half of them reported a current (18%) or resolved (26%) episode of genital or pelvic pain lasting 3 or more months. 9% mothers continued to experience pain that had begun after they last gave birth. Clinical examination showed tenderness in the muscles and ligaments in the low back and the pelvis. Tenderness to deep palpation of the suprapubic and sacroiliac area along the course of the long posterior sacroiliac and sacrotuberous ligaments, as well as a palpable step of the pubic symphysis joint were found indicating signs of local inflammation (erythema, oedema, warmth). Laboratory blood tests are usually normal, with a nonspecific mild elevation of the acute phase reactants (C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate) in a number of cases.

Do you know acupuncture can help reduce pain?

Urinary retention after childbirth, acupuncture can help.

Women rarely consider that they may have difficulty in passing urine following childbirth, but it is a problem that does occur. Research studies in 1994 indicated that 1.7% - 17% of women did not empty their bladder completely. 5 A small number of women, less than 1%, experience a problem that does not resolve without treatment and results in acute retention.

Do you know acupuncture can help postpartum urinary retention (urinary retention after childbirth)? Recently there was a review that compared the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture with intramuscular injection of neostigmine for postpartum urinary retention. In this paper totally 953 patients with postpartum urinary retention from 15 randomized controlled trials entered the meta-analysis. They compared the clinical cure rate of acupuncture alone versus intramuscular injection of neostigmine and found the cure rate in the acupuncture group was higher thatn that in the neostigmine group. No adverse event was reported in the acupuncture group. They concluded that acupuncture alone is more effective in treating postpartum urinary retention than intramuscular injection of neostigmine and it is safe for acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture for urinary incontinence in postpartum women

Postpartum urinary incontinence (PPUI) is a common urological condition in women after childbirth. The significant symptom of PPUI is involuntary urinary leakage, especially during sneezing, coughing or exercise. Nearly 73% of women suffered from PPUI were still reported to have persistent urinary incontinence symptom even 6 years after giving birth. Research studies have been conducted to demonstrate that acupuncture exhibit favourable effects on urinary incontinence by mitigating bladder instability.

References

Paterson LQ et al (2009) J Sex Med 6:215-21

Hansen A et al (2005) Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 84:170-6

https://www.ics.org/Documents/DocumentsDownload.aspx?DocumentID=1679

Wang XM Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018 May 14;2018:2072091.

Y Wang et al Medicine (Baltimore) 2020 Aug 14; 99(33): e21772.

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