The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth
Debra Betts is based in New Zealand. With a background in nursing, she graduated from The London College of Acupuncture in 1989. In 1991 she established a private practice in New Zealand, specialising in pregnancy and women’s healthcare. She now divides her time between her practice and teaching. She has been developing and teaching acupuncture courses specifically for midwives since 1997.
Within her preface she explains that she draws on ‘Several pregnancies and more than fifteen years of clinical practice specialising in pregnancy care’ for the information contained within this informative book. She seems to have successfully distilled the information provided by her teachers and many texts and papers into a practical compilation of what has actually worked in practice with her patients.
The book is organised into 27 chapters and nine appendices.
She starts with an introduction to acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth. Here she covers all the basics, safety of treatments, contra-indicated points and point combinations and needling technique.
She emphasises the importance of acupuncture practitioners working closely with midwives and doctors and the need for good communication between all care-givers. Given the recent discussions within the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) about induction of labour and communication with the midwives, this is very relevant and reflects our profession’s ongoing drive to increase communication between care-givers from different specialities. She also issues a stark, yet gentle, warning that although acupuncture plays a vital role in pregnancy the ultimate responsibility for the woman’s safety rests with midwives and doctors. This is wise and practical advice, which, if heeded, will ultimately result in greater respect and understanding between the acupuncturists and the midwives and doctors.
Chapters 2-19 cover conditions and problems in pregnancy, from miscarriage through to itching, oedema and breech presentations.
Each chapter is organised into ‘Western medical information’, ‘A traditional Chinese medicine viewpoint’ giving pattern differentiation and treatment, ‘Patient advice’ and ‘Case histories’. Each chapter is individually referenced, always preferable to trawling through pages of references at the end of a book. They are practical, well laid out and very useful.
I was interested to see in breech presentation treatment that the author advocated continuing moxa to Bl 67 to maintain the baby’s correct position. This is, of course, completely different to other text advice such as the Nanjing Seminar Transcripts where it is stated that ‘continual treatment may produce malposition again’. I asked the author about this and she stated that her clinical experience indicated that the continued moxibustion ‘rooted’ the foetus in position. I shall apply this in my practice and observe the results.
She has an interesting chapter on ‘Prebirth Acupuncture’. She confirms what a lot of practitioners observe in practice; that with prebirth treatments woman tend to go into spontaneous labour and progress efficiently to a natural birth.
Subsequent chapters cover induction of labour, intrauterine deaths, labour and delivery and postnatal treatment.
There is a review of research into the application of acupuncture in pregnancy and a comprehensive chapter on dietary advice from both a western medicine and Chinese medicine perspective.
The nine appendices cover moxibustion, antenatal testing, western medicine and a Chinese medicine glossary, a pictorial representation of pregnancy and birth, point location and needling technique and developing an acupuncture practice for pregnancy and childbirth.
Over the last eighteen years I have treated a lot of pregnant women and enjoyed a pregnancy and successful birth managed entirely with acupuncture. Based on my clinical and personal experience, and my earlier struggles to find practical advice and help in this specialist area, I really welcome this book. We have in recent years seen the publication of several other excellent texts on this subject, such as Giovanni Maciocia’s Obstetrics and Zita West’s book Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Debra Betts further enriches this pool of information. I particularly like the tone of her book, also the colour, the print and the layout. I enjoy using it in my clinic and I find it suitable for quick referral and deeper reading.
I recommend it to any acupuncturist who has the rewarding task of treating pregnant women. It is a wonderful area of medicine where – despite trials and tribulations – joy, love and happiness are often the final outcome.
Maureen Cromey Maureen Cromey is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. She trained in London and China and graduated in acupuncture in 1986. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Oriental Medicine and has contributed significantly to the British Acupuncture Council’s ‘Code of Safe Practice’. She practises privately in West London and is an acupuncture consultant to Spa Resorts in the Maldives.