Complications In Pregnancy and Acupuncture, Can Complete Placenta Previa Be Treated Naturally?

Ryan's picture
I have had the opportunity to treat a handful of patients over the years who have been diagnosed with placenta previa. This is a condition in pregnancy where the placenta forms too low in the uterus. This is a dangerous condition as the placenta covers the opening to the cervix and can detach early in labor. If the placenta doesn't move away from the cervix these pregnancies will end with a cesarean (C- Section). For most women this is not the ideal way they had wanted their child to enter the world. Unfortunately it is the safest way unless the placenta moves to a more desirable location above the opening. So can acupuncture help to change the location of the placenta?
A few years ago I had 3 women come in for treatment for complete placenta previa. I had success treating all 3 but I haven't seen any since! It's interesting in practice how you will see a similar condition multiple times in a matter of months but not see it for possibly years after. This was the case in my practice. Well, early this year I had a women come into the practice with placenta previa. This is a difficult condition to treat and I've already had success with those three. I was optimistic we can also help in this 4th case. My patient (Lets call her Lori) was also a medical health professional but wasn't as optimistic as I. She read through the literature and spoke with her OB, complete placenta previa rarely improves and there is no treatments to help.  
Thankfully Lori had already had success in different areas of her health using acupuncture at Acubalance and was willing to give this "strange to her" treatment a try. We used a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion and some dietary changes. She was diligent and followed the suggestions and treatment plan perfectly. When discussing her treatment with her OB he was none too hopeful.  
Her diagnosis was just after 20 weeks pregnant. Her placenta placement was covering the cervix by 1cm. In order to have a vaginal delivery and eliminate the need for a c-section it needed to be several cm away. She then had a follow up ultrasound at 30 weeks. It was good news as it had surprisingly moved to just over 1 cm away from the cervix. Although good news, it was still dangerously close and we still had more work to do. Again, she kept up with all the suggestions and treatment plan leading up to yet another ultrasound at 36 weeks. This ultrasound gave great news. The placenta had now moved well over 4 cm away from the cervix opening allowing her to try for a regular delivery. Lori was ecstatic with the change that definitely surprised her OB.  
I do believe there is no one treatment for everyone nor can we have a 100% success with every condition. I am pleased to have been able to help and support these women through their pregnancies and following births to healthy children. I look forward to the next placenta previa case that I treat whether its in the next month or in the next few years.  
Best of Health
Dr. Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine