For everything from pregnancy back pain and headache, to nausea and insomnia, alternative therapies are being recommended more and more even by traditional doctors. Alternative therapy techniques tend to treat you as a whole person, hence the term holistic, taking your nutritional, emotional, spiritual and physical health and well-being into consideration. Alternative therapies also emphasises the body’s ability to heal itself- with a little help from herbs, massage, meditation and other natural therapies.
Alternative therapy should be used alongside, but never replace, the treatment offered by your doctor as the safety of these therapies have not been clinically established. This means that before taking any alternative medicines, herbs or taking any therapies, you need to consult your doctor. You will need to make sure that it is completely safe during pregnancy.
Few therapies which are known to be safe during pregnancy are:
- Massage and aromatherapy for treating anxiety
- Acupuncture for back and pelvic pain. Chiropractic manipulation and massage may help.
- Acupressure, ginger and vitamin B6 for morning sickness or nausea work well and are considered safe for pregnant women.
- Turning a breech baby – yoga and hypnosis are beneficial in turning a breech baby.
- Labour induction – the risks and benefits of agents like evening primrose oil and red raspberry are still unknown so they are not recommended during pregnancy. Conventional methods are more reliable for these purposes.
- Pain relief in labour – Epidurals are most effective, but other methods like immersion in a warm bath and acupuncture can be effective too.
There are times during pregnancy when these therapies may not be safe. For example, your abdomen should not be massaged during the first three months of pregnancy. Relaxation techniques, patterned breathing, emotional support, and self-hypnosis are widely used in alternative therapies in labour.
Alternative therapies should not be used unless they have been specifically prescribed by either your traditional practitioner, who is knowledgeable in alternative therapies or by a well-trained alternative therapy practitioner.
Alternative medicines cannot replace conventional antenatal care. It is important to attend regular antenatal check-ups throughout your pregnancy.