I often get this question - is acupuncture safe during pregnancy? The answer is yes as long as acupuncture is performed by a qualified acupuncturist who has experience and knowledge of pregnancy care. All my patients who got pregnant under my care continue acupuncture treatment until they reach the second trimester.
Here are conditions that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help:
- Sinusitis, postnasal drip
- Hypertension (pregnancy-induced)
- Pain relief during labour
Morning sickeness (nausea, vomiting)
Morning sickness usually begins around 6 weeks of pregnancy but can start as early as four weeks of pregnancy. It continues though to around 14 weeks but some women have nausea and vomiting throughout their entire pregnancy. The cause is unknown, but one of the suspects is hormone change (especially hCG and estrogen).
Acupuncture has been shown to alleviate nausea and vomiting. Depending on the severity, you may need acupuncture treatment 1-3 times per week. If very severe, Chinese medicine may need to be prescribed, and it is safe even during the first trimester - it is proven to be safe by a long history of use of certain Chinese herbs for morning sickness.
I have noticed that most of my patients who had regular acupuncture treatment prior to their pregnancy have no or very light morning sickness. This really makes sense from the Chinese medicine point of view as the treatment strategy for enhancing fertility is very similar to the treatment strategy for morning sickness.
Experts say that more than half (60-70%) of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. To be honest, acupuncture and Chinese medicine probably do not prevent miscarriage in this case. However, other causes are hormonal imbalance (low progesterone, low estrogen, etc.), stress (high cortisol which causes low progesterone), and acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help for these conditions. There are some studies that proved that there is a link between miscarriage/vaginal bleeding during pregnancy and stress/emotions.
Breech baby (malposition of the fetus)
Breech presentation affects 4% of pregnancies. Most babies turn into the down position between 28 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. However, if the breech persists, you may want to try acupuncture and moxibustion.
Acupuncture and moxibustion between 32-37 weeks of pregnancy have been shown to be effective treatments that gently encourage the baby to turn into the head-down position by affecting the mother’s hormones and thereby increasing the baby's movements. The best time for treatment is between 32 and 37 weeks of pregnancy; however, it is most effective when preformed at 32 weeks because there is still a lot of room for the baby to move. I provide acupuncture treatment and teach you how to perform moxibustion treatment at home. The success rate is 70-80%.
Your pregnancy has been going very well without any complications but now you are overdue. Your doctor is afraid that your baby will grow too big and your placenta might start failing so he/she suggests to you that if you don’t go into labour soon it will have to be induced.
Since you don’t really want to be given drugs to induce labour you try to induce labour yourself using methods such as sexual intercourse, walking around, nipple stimulation, eating spicy food, drinking caster oil, etc. but there is still no sign of labour. Don’t give up yet because there is one more very safe and effective method to try.
Acupuncture can induce labour in a natural way. There are a number of acupuncture points that can cause uterine contractions. Unlike inducing labour using a drug such as synthetic oxytocin, acupuncture helps your body induce labour naturally and is highly effective and very safe. It could take as little as one treatment of acupuncture to induce labour, but generally 2-3 daily treatments are often needed. I also teach acupressure you can perform at home. The success rates are somewhere around 70-90%.
I provide this treatment only after you obtain a permission from your obstetrician.