Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Acupuncture During Pregnancy

For pregnant women, acupuncture has a lot to offer, and this post is a brief run down of some of acupuncture’s benefits during pregnancy.

Acupuncture provides a drug-free alternative to many of the problems that women can experience during pregnancy, including many of those which are sometimes considered to simply be ‘part and parcel’ of being pregnant – for instance back pain, morning sickness, fatigue and sciatica. Acupuncture can also be of great help for other issues arising during pregnancy.

Safety Of Acupuncture During Pregnancy

I often get asked if acupuncture is suitable for pregnant women, and if it’s safe, and the answer to both questions is definitely ‘yes’!

Acupuncture has a very long history of use during pregnancy, and is completely safe for mother and baby when carried out by a  qualified acupuncturist. There are certain acupoints and techniques which are forbidden during pregnancy, so it’s important to make sure that your acupuncturist is properly qualified and experienced. So long as that’s the case, you can relax, knowing that it’s perfectly safe, and can be extremely beneficial… Here’s how…

Acupuncture For Preventing Miscarriage

Acupuncture can be used for threatened miscarriage and in cases of multiple previous miscarriages. As long as the foetus is viable, acupuncture can help to strengthen the mother’s body to continue the pregnancy. This is particularly useful as a preventative treatment when there are concerns about miscarriage.

Acupuncture For Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is often considered ‘normal’ during pregnancy, but in  Chinese medicine terms, it does indicate an imbalance and as such, can be treated. Results can often be extremely quick.

A trial, by Dr Smith of Adelaide University in Australia, and published in the medical journal Birth found acupuncture to be extremely effective in reducing morning sickness. Dr Smith said “our results have shown that as little as one treatment can significantly change the way these women feel….  We found that traditional acupuncture reduced nausea throughout the trial, with dry retching being reduced from the second week. Women now have an additional option to manage their morning sickness… They function – physically and emotionally – much better after acupuncture.”

Acupuncture For Pain During Pregnancy

Pain and discomfort such as backache, rib pain, pelvic pain, leg cramps and sciatica, are also considered ‘normal’ due to the weight of the growing foetus and hormonal effects of on the ligaments during pregnancy. However, acupuncture is a very effective treatment for pain of all kinds, including those experienced during pregnancy.

A study by Elden et al from 2005, published in the BMJ compared acupuncture to the standard treatment for pelvic pain during pregnancy, and to physiotherapy, and found that acupuncture was the treatment of choice for patients with one sided or bilateral sacroiliac pain.

Acupuncture For Fatigue During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman’s body does a lot of work, and a portion of all the nutrients taken in are ‘diverted’ to the growing foetus. In Chinese terms, this puts a great demand on the mother’s Qi. Using acupuncture during pregnancy to strengthen the Qi is an effective way of boosting energy levels and treating tiredness and fatigue.

Moxibustion For Breech Presentation

This is one treatment pregnant woman should know about. A simple, non-invasive (needle-free) treatment to encourage a breech or posterior positioned baby to turn into the correct position – moxibustion involves heating an acupuncture point by burning a specific herb called moxa (more about moxa here)

Cardini at al, in a 1998 study published in JAMA took women with a breech presentation of their first baby at 33 weeks and gave one half moxa treatment, and one half no treatment. At 35 weeks, the moxa group had 75.4% cephalic (correct) presentation, compared with 47.7% of the control group. The moxa group also experienced a greater number of foetal moevemtns.

Acupuncture To Induce Pregnancy

Another ‘must-know’ for all pregnant women – acupuncture can be used to induce labour when a woman becomes post-term. This is a treatment that works with the woman’s body to encourage the natural processes leading up to labour. In my opinion, it should always be attempted before undergoing a medical induction.

Acupuncture As A Routine Pre-Birth Treatment

Acupuncture is also an extremely useful routine pre-birth treatment to shorten labour, and reduce complications. This is something that I really feel can benefit pregnant women (and their babies!) – so much so that it deserves its own post, which you can find here


In addition, acupuncture can also be effectively used for the following:

  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Haemorrhoids
  • UTIs
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Oedema


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