Is it safe to have acupuncture during pregnancy?
Acupuncture is not only a safe treatment for pregnant women but has been shown to be very beneficial in treating certain conditions, as long as it is carried out by a professionally trained acupuncturist. In my experience, it has also helped my pregnant patients to relax and enjoy a sense of well-being.
There are a very small number of points which I don't use during most of your pregnancy as they are points that can be used to induce labour if you are post-term. As it is important to keep all treatments very gentle, I use the minimum number of needles and very light stimulation. I will always refer you back to your midwife or GP if I am concerned about any symptoms you describe.
Later on in pregnancy, it isn't generally advisable for you to lie flat on a couch, so I will always make you comfortable by asking you to sit up or lie on your left side during treatment and offering you as many pillows as you need to support your back, legs or bump!
STOP PRESS: Click here to see a video with a discussion of how effective acupuncture can be for morning sickness.
Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective for the following:
It can also be effective in treating:
Read on for more information on some of the above conditions and for some acupressure self-help during labour:
Turning Breech and Posterior Babies
More and more midwives seem to be aware of the success rates of using acupuncture to turn breech babies. One study (1) of 260 women with breech presentations in week 33 showed that 75% of babies turned after acupuncture treatment compared with only 48% of those whose mothers hadn't received acupuncture. In my experience of treating women with breech presentations, acupuncture is an extremely effective and non-invasive therapy.
For this treatment, you would only need to attend my clinic once. It involves application of heat to a point on both of your little toes for 20 minutes each and doesn't require any needling. I would then show you how your partner could do this treatment at home. They would be very welcome to come along and see the demonstration themselves if you wish.
The best time for treatment is at 34 weeks but often you won't be aware that your baby is breech until around week 36. In my clinical experience, breech babies still turn with acupuncture treatment at 38 - 39 weeks. The treatment for posterior presentation is the same as the treatment above.
Prebirth treatment involves a series of four treatments weekly from 36 or 37 weeks to prepare for labour. Points are used according a woman's constitution and pregnancy history. These include points to ripen the cervix, to help position the baby in the best presentation for labour and to promote optimal energy and stamina for women to enter into labour.
Data on 169 women was gathered by 14 midwives as part of their midwifery practice in Wellington, New Zealand. It found that amongst those women who had received prebirth acupuncture there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women having their first baby this was a 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate.
Points for Your Birth Partner to Press During Labour
Debra Betts, a midwife and acupuncturist in New Zealand has written a very clear downloadable guide to acupressure before, during labour and postnatally. It covers labour preparation, pain relief during labour, alleviating after pains and establishing breast feeding. Click here to access Debra's website and download your copy. The guide gives clear instructions and diagrams on how to find these points and to make it even simpler I always demonstrate these to my patients when they attend my clinic.
US researchers say acupuncture may effectively treat depression during pregnancy. To read more, click here
Research findings suggest acupuncture may help prevent cesarean births. To find out more, click here.
To find out more about how acupuncture can help during pregnancy, visit this page for the BAcC's factsheet. For their factsheet on acupuncture during childbirth, please click here. For more information on acupuncture and acupressure in pregnancy, please go to Debra Bett's excellent website by clicking here.
1. Cardini F, Weixin H (1998) "Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation", Journal of the American Medical Association, 280:1580-1584