Expecting. Something in the air.

Here’s a story about the effectiveness of community in one day of community acupuncture. It’s also a reminder to all acupuncturists using recliner chairs treating woman in late stages of pregnancy. 

This happened one day recently towards the end of our shift, where the room was completely full. I was treating a young woman (we’ll call her Jules) who is 30 weeks pregnant. I had just finished needling her husband two chairs away, and he had already fallen asleep as only he can, immediately and deeply, into the drop edge of yonder. These two have been coming in weekly since our first month open, long before they were pregnant. Wonderful people. Joys to be with.

Ellen was treating another young woman who is also thirty weeks pregnant. She happens to be a community-based physician. Her husband was also sleeping a snorry sleep with needles in. They have also been long-time regulars. And, such joys to be with.

When sitting down into the recliner, Jules began experiencing some physical discomfort and distress unrelated to treatment but related to being a month and a half from expecting. She was feeling light-headed and nauseas. I helped her back up to walk with her to the bathroom. We didn’t make it there, because Jules fainted, with me holding her. It was momentary, but, there she was, my pregnant patient, having fainted, lying in the middle of our twelve or so other patients. I guess it goes without saying that this is the kind of thing that can create some fear for the person experiencing it, and for person’s nearby.

Ellen’s patient, the Doc, now had needles in, and she was situated directly across from Jules. She and Ellen had front row seats, as did everyone else, for Jules going down.

When you have a room full of people (16 including our front desk volunteer, who is 30 weeks pregnant) feeling calm and safe, there’s a lot of good attention and resource that gets to go in the direction of someone in a potentially distressing or dangerous situation.

Ellen and I helped Jules through normal protocols. The Doc remained relaxed within her treatment and softly reminded Ellen of a couple things to tell me and Jules, mainly that sitting in that kind of reclined position at 30 weeks can partially restrict flow through the vena cava. Ellen and I took turns staying with a now laughing Jules while she lied on her side with a couple of pillows. Sweet people in neighboring chairs, including a first-timer, made jokes with her, and asked friendly questions like “boy or girl?”. Everyone in the room remained relaxed, if not asleep. Everyone finished their treatments.

Jules and the doctor and the front desk volunteer, all thirty weeks pregnant, got to meet each other, and start planning a babies group.

 I had one more patient to treat that evevning. I was twenty minutes late getting to her, the latest I think either Ellen or I have ever been. My patient, almost 3 months pregnant said she didn’t mind waiting at all. She laughed and said, looks like you’ve been busy with a couple of things. 

Author: korben

I'm an acupunk and owner at Kindred Community Acupuncture in Pawtucket, RI. I co-founded Philadelphia Community Acupuncture in 2007, and moved to Providence in 2011 to be close to family after the birth of my son, and to work with the inimitable Cris Monteiro at PCA.

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  1. I’m glad you were there to

    I’m glad you were there to catch her.  It sounds like it all worked out fine, thank goodness.

    What is the best position for a far along pregnant woman.  I have a NP who is 30+ weeks and I’m not ready for another fainting episode.

  2. positioning

    If you have any tables, you could treat on their side, with a pillow between the knees. Otherwise, just don’t have them recline all the way back, or else have them turned slightly to their side. Everytime I see the MD who helped us out that evening I ask her if she wants to go on the table, but she still insists that she is fine reclining in the chair. Some people will be fine like that — it’s just good to be aware that these things can happen, and to encourage women to sit upright for a minute or two, or three, after reclining in a treatment chair before they get up and start walking around.

    Ellen Vincent

  3. Great story!

    Its got me wondering though…I have an obese patient with a very large pregnant looking belly. She’s had a few incidents while getting treated of feeling somewhat nauseous. Nausea is sometimes a problem for her otherwise but I’m wondering if the doctor could comment on whether the weight of her unpregnant but large belly could be causing this? Acupuncture Access uses poang chairs from ikea with footstools so they don’t recline back as far.

  4. Math

    We see a fair number of pregnant women in late stages and I concur with the wisdom of a side lying position with pillows, and not fully reclined.

     Math: So were you counting the 3 fetuses in your total tally? That would be like 19 beings basking in the community energy by my count…. Smile


    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

  5. Yoga Ball

    Some of my late-stage pregnant mom’s don’t like to be on the table either, even when it’s fully propped with pillows.  They bring their yoga balls in and sit on the ball next to the table.  Then they lean forward over the table, so their head and arms rest on the table, sitting/squatting on the ball. 

    “Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” –Rumi