Bringing a child into the world is one of life’s greatest gifts. But, along with the anticipation of that little bundle of joy, often comes some physical challenges and discomfort. Did you know that acupuncture has been shown to address several issues that come up during pregnancy? Here’s what to know about the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy and what the research shows.
One of the most difficult aspects of pregnancy for many women is morning sickness or nausea. For some women, it can be severe and last throughout the day. The medical term for this severe form of nausea and vomiting is called hyperemesis gravidarum.
A 2021 review of 16 previously published studies concluded that acupuncture was effective in dealing with severe nausea during pregnancy. A quick search of PubMed will bring up a host of different studies detailing how acupuncture can help with nausea symptoms even beyond pregnancy, including during cancer treatments and in palliative care settings.
Aches & Pains (including Labor Pain)
The human body changes in amazing ways during pregnancy and that often brings with it pelvic and back pain in the second and third trimesters. A 2021 and a 2018 study both found acupuncture to be safe and effective in addressing lower back pain.
Overall, acupuncture has been shown by many studies to help with labor pain management. For example, a 2020 review examined 28 more recent studies and found that acupuncture was effective in helping to manage labor pain and reduce the need for other pain medications including epidural.
One of the largest studies conducted involved more than 600 pregnant women and compared those using acupuncture during labor to those who used other methods like traditional pain medications or transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. Researchers found that those in the acupuncture group had a lower chance of using other pain relieving measures.
Researchers have also found that acupuncture can be a great treatment option when a baby is breech. Studies show that stimulating acupuncture points BL67 and Sl1 between weeks 32 and 35 might help turn babies so they can present headfirst. In this study, participants were given 30-minute treatments for 3 days in a week and it was combined with moxibustion, another Chinese medicine treatment.
Anxiety and depression can be difficult to address during pregnancy (and postpartum) but are more common than most people think. A small study performed in 2010 found that both acupuncture and massage helped women who had developed depressive symptoms. Researchers found that those in the acupuncture group had a reduction in overall symptoms as compared to women who underwent more traditional depression treatments.
You should always check with your acupuncturist about any potential contraindications, but overall, studies have shown acupuncture to be a safe and effective alternative to dealing with many of the challenges that come during pregnancy. And acupuncture has also been shown effective in dealing with fertility issues so you may want to begin treatments even before pregnancy. Talk to your acupuncturist today about developing a treatment plan that is right for you and your pregnancy journey.