by Dr. Daryl Thuroff, DACM, LAc, LMT

How Chinese Medicine Can be Used to Treat Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa is a condition characterized by the placenta partially or completely covering the mother’s cervix, the passageway for the uterus. This obstruction can cause a blockage and if ruptured can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery.

More often than not, the placenta moves off of the cervix by week 32 of the pregnancy and the mom can deliver vaginally. If there is no movement past this time, and no emergent bleeding, a C-section is usually scheduled at week 37 to have better control over the health and safety of mom and baby during delivery.

How is this identified in Chinese medicine and how can we help affect change so the mother does not have to have a scheduled c-section?

In Chinese medicine, the spleen has an ascending function. When it is deficient, it may not be able to hold things up well enough. This is often referred to as “sinking qi” which could be a contributing factor to organ prolapse, hemorrhoids and placenta previa to name a few pregnancy-specific issues.

Most recently, a patient of mine who has been coming for regular acupuncture throughout her pregnancy was diagnosed at 28 weeks with placenta previa. We began using acupuncture points to lift and secure the spleen energy to assist the movement of the placenta. At 33 weeks, the placenta had not moved a significant amount and was still covering her cervix. Around this time we included moxibustion in office and at home to Bai Hui, Du 20, a point at the top of the head. This point has multiple functions, two of which are very helpful in this situation: to raise yang to counter prolapse and calm the spirit.  Additionally, we used a pregnancy-friendly Chinese herbal formula called Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang to assist in lifting the placenta. At 36 weeks plus 5 days, the patient happily reported that the placenta previa was completely resolved and she was able to cancel her scheduled C-section.

Not all outcomes are the same; some take longer than others to resolve. Regardless, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are supportive measures to help in this process, whether it is to help keep your birth plan running smoothly or to adjust for potential changes in that plan yet still have a positive experience through labor and delivery.

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