Acupuncture during pregnancy

Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing which began with the discovery that the stimulation of specific areas of the skin affected the functioning of certain organs of the body.

Traditional acupuncture enables self-healing of the body, mind and spirit, as far as nature will allow. Any illness or symptom, either mental or physical, is considered to be associated with an imbalance of a person’s vital energy. Acupuncture seeks to restore this balance in order to restore health.

Many women are reluctant to take drugs during pregnancy, and acupuncture is a good alternative for relieving common ailments.

Acupuncture practitioner Eileen McManus, from Rusper, says, “Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience, but for some it comes with a number of health issues such as nausea and sciatica. These and others can be safely treated with acupuncture, and the birth can be assisted by mother feeling at her optimum health, having had treatment throughout, or having treatment during delivery.”

Is acupuncture safe to have during pregnancy? Can it harm the baby?

It is very safe to have acupuncture during pregnancy, and it can be used as early as six weeks. It is vital that you go to a qualified acupuncturist, and that you choose an acupuncturist who is used to treating pregnant women. The British Acupuncture Council will assist you in finding a suitable practitioner.

How can acupuncture help in pregnancy?

Acupuncture can alleviate many of the conditions experienced during pregnancy which are often considered “par for the course”, and for which effective remedy is rarely offered. There are no “contra-indications” for acupuncture, as there are with so many of the medications that you might normally use outside pregnancy.

What conditions can acupuncture help during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy?

  • Morning sickness
  • Hyperemesis (a severe vomiting in pregnancy)
  • Early pregnancy bleeding
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • 12 – 28 weeks of pregnancy
  • Heartburn
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • 28 – 40 weeks
  • Pubic pain
  • Carpal Tunnel syndrome
  • Backache
  • Sciatica
  • All indeterminate aches and pains

Does it hurt and how often would I need treatment?

You should only need weekly treatment and 4 to 6 needles are used disposable needle are used to there is no risk to you from infection. The sensation you feel is a dull ache and is not sharp.

I have heard that acupuncture can be used to turn breech babies. It this true and how is it carried out?

There is more and more research being done on the use of moxabustion to turn breech babies. It has been used for centuries in China and currently research using a small sample of mothers has shown it to be effective. Always inform your midwife if you are using acupuncture.

Moxabustion has been used in China to turn breech babies for centuries. Moxa is a herb, which is formed into a long stick. It looks like cigar, and is lit in a similar way to create a gentle smouldering heat. Placed close to the acupuncture point of the little toe, it is most successful when used form 32 to 26 weeks. It should, however, be used on only women who have healthy pregnancies; further information is available from The Pregnancy Shop web site.

Can acupuncture be used for induction of labour?

Acupuncture can be used to induce your baby, but it is advisable only when you have reached your due date and not before. It appears to be most effective seven to ten days after this date. Needles are usually placed in the hands, feet and lower back and manipulated gently for stimulation. Research has shown that treatment can be effective from as soon as 3 hours and up to 60 hours after treatment. The success rate is good, but it does depend on many factors and should only be considered if you have had a healthy pregnancy with no complications.

Can acupuncture be used during labour?

Yes, acupuncture can be used during labour for pain relief and also to help boost energy levels. Just where the needle is inserted will depend upon the type of labour you are having. Some acupuncturists will also use an electro-acupuncture machine, which looks similar to the TENS pain-relieving machines you may have seen at ante-natal clinics. Some women have had a good response to its use in labour.

What conditions can acupuncture help after delivery?

Acupuncture can help to restore the mother’s energy levels after the stress of the birth, and can help with depression and anxiety. It can also be used for pain, such as backache or perennial pain.

Should I inform my doctor or midwife that I am having acupuncture?
Yes, it is always sensible to tell your midwife what treatment you are receiving, and she will then inform your GP.