Acupuncture for Pregnancy

This page explains acupuncture for pregnancy including nausea and vomiting, inviting a breech baby to turn and preparation for labour.

Pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal phase are seen as times of great transition by traditional acupuncture.  Existing imbalances can worsen or new ones arise due to the rapid changes a woman’s body physiologically undergoes, along with the change in her social role.

Pregnant woman - Acupuncture for PregnancyThis upheaval of homoeostasis is viewed as a window of opportunity from the perspective of acupuncture to address new and long standing imbalances.  For this reason, signs of disharmony during the natural phases of pregnancy can be received as either helpful messages or suppressed and ignored.

Traditional acupuncture works in many ways to promote maternal and foetal health.  Overall preventive care is emphasised and valued for strengthening both mother and baby, alongside dealing with any problems as they arise during pregnancy.  Acupuncture understands that how a woman approaches her pregnancy and the birth of her child can affect the long term health of them both.

Pregnant women can suffer from fatigue, nausea, backache, pelvic pain, constipation and other problems which are considered a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy.  Acupuncture is a safe, gentle and effective way to address these complaints often avoiding or reducing the need for medication.

The British Acupuncture Council Obstetrics Fact Sheet (PDF) analyses acupuncture in pregnancy research.  From the research evidence available it concludes that acupuncture may:

  • Improve mood and reduce anxiety
  • Alleviate nausea, vomiting, heartburn, digestive pain and bloating
  • Relieve pain such as back pain, pelvic pain and labour pain
  • Turn a foetus who is breech
  • Promote spontaneous labour

Here are some links to research on the website of Dr Debra Betts (PhD), a nurse, acupuncturist and author who taught me obstetric acupuncture:
Acupuncture for Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy
Treatment of Depression in Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can be mild and comfortable to live with for some women.  For others it can be compared to the experience of having persistent food poisoning which impairs their ability to work.  From the perspective of traditional acupuncture nausea associated with pregnancy can arise from a variety of energetic imbalances which all involve the stomach’s energy.  Acupuncture treatment is aimed at strengthening the energetic function of the stomach and correcting any underlying disharmonies.  Dietary advice is directed at reducing the energetic workload of the digestive system.

If the nausea and vomiting are persistent it may be necessary for a woman to receive more than one treatment per week until her symptoms become manageable.  In this case, a reduced fee is applicable for additional treatments within the same week.  Please contact me for more information.

The British Acupuncture Council has published a Fact Sheet to give accurate and unbiased information about research evidence and how acupuncture may be beneficial for Nausea and Vomiting (PDF).

Here are links to information on the website of Dr Debra Betts (PhD), a nurse, acupuncturist and author who taught me obstetric acupuncture:
Morning Sickness Research
Nausea During Pregnancy Handout (PDF)

Turning a breech, posterior or transverse baby

Ideally treatment is between 33-35 weeks gestation, but may be effective as late as 38-39 weeks.  Moxibustion (the application of warmth to points) and acupuncture treatment to encourage the baby to turn into a head-down optimal foetal position for labour.

This can be helpful if the baby is in a breech, posterior or transverse position.  Treatment leading up to an ECV (External Cephalic Version) may in addition help increase the chances of turning the baby.  Women are also instructed on how to safely continue treatment at home with a moxibustion stick.

The turning of a baby is accomplished through the combined efforts of the baby’s movements and help from the uterine muscles to facilitate the turn.  Moxibustion and acupuncture treatment aim to boost the energetic strength it takes to move the baby.

The British Acupuncture Council Obstetrics Fact Sheet (PDF) analyses moxibustion and acupuncture for breech babies research.  Research information can also be found on the website of Dr Debra Betts (PhD), a nurse, acupuncturist and author who taught me obstetric acupuncture: Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Breech Presentation

Pre-birth treatment to prepare for an efficient and effective labour

From 35-36 weeks a series of 4-5 treatments once per week.  Treatment is tailored according to each woman’s constitution and pregnancy history.  Acupuncture treatment can include:

  • Inviting the baby into an optimum position for birth
  • Preparing the pelvis for labour by promoting energetic fluidity and ripening the cervix
  • Supporting the emotional preparation for labour by calming feelings such as fear, anxiety or frustration
  • Promoting optimum energy and stamina for a woman to enter into labour

Here are links to information on the website of Dr Debra Betts (Phd), a nurse, acupuncturist and author who taught me obstetric acupuncture:
Pre-birth Acupuncture Research
Acupuncture for Cervical Ripening Research
Pre-birth Acupuncture Article

Information about acupuncture treatment to induce labour, acupressure for pain relief in childbirth and acupuncture in postnatal care, including breast feeding difficulties is available on the Acupuncture and Acupressure in Childbirth and Postnatal Care page of this website.
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