Acupuncture in pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of huge change to life and your body. While some women don’t have problems, for others it can through up unexpected difficulties or exacerbate existing conditions. So to prepare yourself for the unknown it is useful to know what options are out there just in case you and or some you know could benefit from them.  

Here is a guide to how can acupuncture help in pregnancy. Chinese Medicine considers pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery a window of opportunity to enhance the woman’s well-being. Helping to make sure she is looked after and supported for the new and demanding challenges early days with a new born brings.

Most people know acupuncture can help reduce morning sickness and at the end of pregnancy help to induce labour. But actually, acupuncture has a lot more to offer.

What can acupuncture treat in pregnancy?

Existing conditions you can no longer take medication for

Traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than specific symptoms in isolation. This means it can treat a range of conditions, including issues you may have stopped taking medication for due to your pregnancy.

Muscular skeletal pain in pregnancy

The body transforms in pregnancy, hormonal changes and increased weight through joints can exasperate old injuries and create new pain particularly relating to the pelvis and low back. Acupuncture can help manage pain and muscle tightness as the body continues to accommodate for your growing baby.

Research: Back pain, rib pain, sciatica and pelvic pain are common problems in pregnancy. The pain can often be reduced with acupuncture. A Swedish study found acupuncture to be an efficient complementary approach for the management of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.

Breech and posterior babies

In the case of breech and posterior baby’s treatment involves less acupuncture and more moxa. Moxa is a herb and in this case is rolled in paper, a little like a cigar. When lit it produces a lot of heat which it held close to a point on the little toe. This supports foetal optimal positioning. The acupuncturist will give an initial treatment and then the mother is taught how to do this herself at home.

Research: The most rigorous study to date found that the warming of a specific point on the little toe with moxa was an effective and safe way to correct a breech position when used between 32 to 35 weeks of gestation.

Labour preparation

Treatment to prepare the mother for labour starts three to four weeks before the due date and is then given weekly before labour begins. The treatment focus is to make sure the woman is in the best health she can be for labour. Therefor treating any problems at the time and also using points which focus on relaxing the pelvis and encouraging the cervix to prepare for labour. Don't worry points are below the knee.

Research: A German study points to its usefulness in reducing the length of labour, while research from New Zealand indicates a reduction in women requiring medical intervention including induction and Caesarean section.

Other complaints

Treatment can be used to relive a variety of conditions including:

Anaemia • Anxiety • Constipation • Carpal Tunnel syndrome • Heartburn • Haemorrhoids and Vulval varices • Insomnia • Oedema • Headaches • Sinus problems • Threatened miscarriage • Tiredness and exhaustion • Thrush

Acupuncture has a lot to offer. It can help ease symptoms brought on by pregnancy. It can help manage existing complaints and it can be used for general well-being. And it is relaxing, women fall asleep on the couch!

Siân Morriss - Holistic Acupuncture