This article was triggered by a recent conversation with a pregnant patient – ‘I was totally unaware that acupuncture could do all these things’ she said to me. I realised that I’d had this conversation many times before. ‘Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?’ was her next question.
Acupuncture Is Safe During Pregnancy If Carried Out By A Competent Acupuncturist
This article is for all those who have yet to ask the question.
Pregnant women are often averse to taking medication for minor ailments – acupuncture can offer a welcome alternative at this time. Many of my patients also remark how supportive they find our discussions in a period of change and anxiety.
There is general agreement that acupuncture is a safe treatment during pregnancy, providing you are treated by a practitioner who is properly trained and registered with a professional body such as the British Acupuncture Council. For example treatment points which have a downward or expulsive nature are avoided at this time, as are points on the abdomen.
In my own practice I see pregnant women with a wide variety of conditions such as nausea and vomiting, acid reflux, anxiety, back pain, symphysys pubis pain, constipation and migraine. For those of you that like to look at the research in these areas, a useful starting point is an article by renowned acupuncturist and former nurse Debra Betts, which can be found at the following website :-
safety of using acupuncture during pregnancy
Acupuncture can also turn breech babies. A long practiced adjunct technique known as moxibustion involves the application of heat to a point on the little toe. According to The British Acupuncture Council, ‘research is currently underway, but previous scientific studies have found promising results for the turning of breech babies; somewhere in the region of 80% success rate’.
Other research has shown that a short course of treatment to prepare the body for labour can reduce the experience of pain and reduce the length of a vaginal delivery. For this I usually recommend three pre-birth sessions from week 36 of pregnancy.
And finally I am often asked to help to induce labour in overdue pregnancies. It should only be used for induction when the mother has passed her due date, and then only with the consent of the obstetric team in charge of the birth. This ensures that all medical factors are taken into account and that the appropriate facilities are in place if the treatment is successful in encouraging the natural process to start. Acupuncture treatment can occasionally have a very rapid effect, but generally speaking it may take at least a few days to work. Acupuncture can also be used to restart labour if it has slowed down or if contractions have stopped.
It is always a pleasure to treat a woman during pregnancy as I feel it is a great opportunity to treat both the mother and her unborn baby. As I often remind my patients, I still only charge for one patient! Please contact me for advice and further information on 07969413158.
For further information you may find the following research summaries helpful.
British Acupuncture Council research fact sheets