I am always tired at the best of times. I have an autoimmune disorder that leaves me in a chronic state of exhaustion. Big downer to the start of a post, I know. Pregnancy has hit me unexpectedly hard. I usually expect a bit less energy in the first trimester, followed by feeling almost like a normal person in the second and third. I was not, however, expecting just this level of bone-weary, soul-crushing, devastating, can-barely-get-up level of unending tiredness.
I talked with my midwife about possibilities. My antenatal bloods came back fine so no enlightenment there. She suggested trying acupuncture or moxibustion. Full disclosure here – I have never had acupuncture. I have a fear of needles and the thought has never thrilled me. My only experience with acupressure is what I have done on myself. To mixed results. Which I would guess is owing to the fact that I am not remotely a professional and have only a vague knowledge of Qi and meridians. Nor have I ever had moxibustion. I know about it for helping to turn breech babies and that’s it. I didn’t even know it could be used for anything else. (Woops!)
So here I was, lying on my bed my midwife holding a moxa stick over points on my back. I am like a cat when it comes to heat. I love nothing more than to be relaxing (or sleeping) right beside a cosy fire or well, any nice warm heat source. So the sensation of warmth penetrating into my skin and muscles was heavenly and I found myself feeling very relaxed.
Sometimes the warmth would build up quick, and other times it was a slow growing warmth. After a while, my body started to feel like it was on something like a caffeine high – tingly, buzzy and rather more energetic than my usual wet blanket self.
Then we switched to points on my legs. This felt surprisingly different. For a long time, it felt like nothing at all. Not even a sensation of warmth. Then the heat suddenly ramped up full force like a wildfire. Just when I thought it was going to get too hot, the hot faded to a bearable warm again (I was warned to say “hot” if it got too hot). It kept cycling between almost too hot and bearable hot. Then it was applied to my other leg. Again nothing. No sensation of heat at all. Then within seconds, the wildfire again. Only this time it did actually get too hot.
It was interesting that there was such a big difference between these different points. I had no point of reference so I had no idea how things were going to turn out. But by the time my midwife was finished, I actually felt giddy with energy. I assumed that any help to my energy levels would be more subtle or perhaps build over time. I didn’t expect to be feeling like I’d just had 4 double shots of coffee.
I was actually able to cook dinner tonight. Something that my spouse has mostly had to take sole responsibility of lately. And it was nice to enjoy the process of making a delicious and nutritious meal rather than have to push through the hazy fog of fatigue to make something, at best, edible.
And several hours on, while the crazy high has worn off and I feel a warm sleepiness creeping in, I still feel an underlying energy I haven’t had in a long time. Obviously, it’s too soon to say how long this boost will last. And all this is, of course, conjecture and anecdote. But if nothing else, it was nice to have something that was incredibly relaxing and to be able to just lie still whilst tended to by my wonderful midwife.
Update: It’s the next day and I still have way more energy than before. Shopping was a joy and I was actually able to get everything done all in one go. I got home, put the groceries away (instead of having a lie-down) and made coconut yoghurt! I’m feeling so optimistic at this point, I got out a whole chicken from the freezer to make roast tomorrow evening for dinner!
Further Reading About Moxibustion
- Moxibustion | Acupuncture Today
- Moxibustion | Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing – University of Minnesota
- If Your Baby is Breech | Birth International