6 Ways Acupuncture Can Support Your Pregnancy

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6 Ways Acupuncture Can Support Your Pregnancy

We all know that acupuncture can help increase your fertility and chances of getting pregnant (right?), but do you also know that one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby while you’re pregnant is to get acupuncture? That’s right!

Is It Safe?  You betcha. A licensed acupuncturist should be trained in proper treatment approaches for pregnancy. Acupuncture is safe for pregnant women, and indeed, will provide many benefits for your health and the health of your baby! So, let’s take a look at six of the myriad benefits you may find with acupuncture during your pregnancy:

Acupuncture relieves stress

Stress is a major cause of many health conditions that we see in our society today, and this is also true for the health of mama and baby during pregnancy.  Stress releases cortisol into the body, affecting a wide range of processes including suppressing our immune systems and causing blood vessels to constrict.  Maternal stress has also been strongly linked to pre-term delivery.  By de-stressing with acupuncture, you may increase blood flow, lower the level of inflammation in the body, and give your immune system a boost. All of that amounts to giving your baby a more peaceful and nourished start.

Acupuncture helps to ease nausea, morning sickness, and heartburn

Morning Sickness is common in the first trimester of pregnancy, while heartburn tends to start later on.  Whether you suffer from either or both, acupuncture can help you soothe your digestive system so that food can get where it needs to go, and mama can be a lot happier.

Acupuncture can relieve pain and discomfort naturally and without medications

Constipation, back pain, leg cramping, insomnia, varicose veins, hemorrhoids… These are all common conditions that arise during pregnancy.  Taking pain relievers, laxatives or sleep aids during pregnancy is not desirable, but you’re in luck! Acupuncture can help you with all of these symptoms so that you don’t have to take medications needlessly.

Acupuncture lessens pre- and post-partum depression

The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy can really do a number on a woman’s psyche.  It’s estimated that up to 14% of pregnant women have a major depressive episode at some point during or after their pregnancy.  While antidepressants are commonly prescribed to people suffering from depression, there’s no definitive evidence on whether the medications are safe for pregnant women and fetuses.  Researchers at Stanford University have found that acupuncture can alleviate this depression so that women can take care of themselves and their new child.

Acupuncture may help resolve a breech presentation

Many babies are in a breech position (where the baby’s head is facing upwards instead of down) in the last 3 months of pregnancy.  The longer this position is maintained, the less chance there is of the baby turning, and 3-4% of babies are still in a breech position at the end of the pregnancy term (West, 2002).  In these cases, most doctors will perform a C-section delivery around the 38th week.  If you are in your last trimester with a breech presentation, starting to get acupuncture around week 32 can, in many cases, be encourage the baby to turn.  You can find more information on the research about resolving breech presentation with acupuncture here.

Acupuncture can help prepare the body for labor and can help smooth the labor process

Many women seek out acupuncture for labor induction, but induction is really a western medical procedure.  Acupuncture can help your body prepare for labor.  Ideally you would be getting acupuncture from 37 weeks on to help prepare for labor by addressing any imbalances that are showing in your tongue and pulse.  Once you’ve reached full-term, your acupuncturist can focus on helping your cervix to ripen.  Labor will start when the baby is ready, but acupuncture can help the body be in the optimal state for a smooth labor.

Calming the mother and helping her relax is a big part of the labor process, as any Lamaze teacher will tell you.   Acupuncture or acupressure can also help smooth things along once labor has started.  A study published recently looked at acupuncture during labor and found that electro-acupuncture significantly shortened both the active phase and the latent phase of the first stage of labor.  Good news!  If your acupuncturist can’t actually be with you during labor, ask him or her to show you some points ahead of time that you or your partner can press for some effect when the time comes.

These are just a handful of ways that your acupuncturist can help you get through the 9 months of pregnancy with ease.  Have you had acupuncture while you were pregnant?  Share your story here below! Also, be sure to check back for more posts from our fertility series!

Some information cited from:    West, Zita (2002).  Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2nd Ed.  Elsevier Press.

[Photo credits: Frank de Kleine, Thomas van Ardenne and Karin Dalziel]
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Showing 4 comments
  • em

    I have undergone acupuncture for both of my pregnancies. It helped me with feeling in a good mood and for other body pains. Once my due date came the Dr wanted to induce me and I said no. Acupuncture helped with bring on labor. Both my labors were smooth and both babies were more than 9lbs. I did not have gestational diabetes, no complications. the Dr was surprised due to the weight of the baby, he thought we might had to undergo a C-section. Of course I said no to that too. I had acupuncture once every two weeks and two months before due date I had it every week. Try it you’ll like it!
    Trust your body will know what to do:)

  • Allaya P. Cooks-Campbell

    I’m pregnant now (second trimester) and a few weeks ago began suffering from sciatic nerve pain. Two sessions in, it’s greatly alleviated (95% gone) and I feel so soothed and relaxed after every appointment. No pain, no medication. Love it!

    • Naomi Skoglund L.Ac.

      That’s great to hear Allaya! I hope you can remain pain-free for the rest of your pregnancy.

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