Pregnancy is an exciting and wonderful time. However, with the many physical and hormonal changes that occur, it can also be a time of discomfort.
Many pregnant women suffer from fatigue, nausea/vomiting, backache, reflux, and other conditions that are considered a “normal” part of pregnancy. Acupuncture is a safe, gentle and effective way to address these complaints, especially since many Western medications can’t be used during this time.
Pregnancy Conditions Treated:
Is Acupuncture Safe during Pregnancy?
Yes. An Australian study conducted by Adelaide University in 2002 found that acupuncture during pregnancy had no adverse effects and was completely safe when done by a trained acupuncturist.
Recent studies have shown acupuncture’s particular effectiveness in relieving morning sickness or the potentially more dangerous hyperemesis gravidarum (severe vomiting during pregnancy). Please click the Morning Sickness tab for more information on Morning Sickness.
In addition to Morning sickness, in the first trimester, acupuncture can also relieve fatigue, migraines and bleeding.
As it helps maintain balance during the second trimester, acupuncture can alleviate heartburn, haemorrhoids and stress. While acupuncture can also be used to treat oedema (fluid retention), elevated blood pressure or excessive weight gain, the root cause of these may be deeper complications. Acupuncturists with adequate training in the care of pregnant women would recognize the potentially serious nature of these symptoms and only offer care concurrent with adequate Western medical care.
Third-trimester treatment can bring much-needed relief from sciatica, backache, pubic and joint pain and even carpal tunnel syndrome, and benefits are sometimes immediate.
A study of women with both back and pelvic pain showed that 60 percent who received Acupuncture treatment reported less intense pain. The study found no complications associated with the use of Acupuncture in pregnant women.
Back and pelvic pain can interfere with everything – work, recreation and even sleep. According to an updated review of eight studies involving 1,305 pregnant women from Sweden, Iran, Brazil, Thailand and Australia, more than two-thirds of pregnant women experience back pain and almost one-fifth report pelvic pain.
Lutheran Medical Center (Brooklyn USA) – 2005 Study – The study of patients at Lutheran showed positive clinical results, including a decrease in the caesarean section rate, on women who received acupuncture during childbirth from February to September 2005. Here are some of those results –
• 87% of patients surveyed indicated they found the acupuncture helpful;
• 75% indicated minor to significant pain relief;
• 80% indicated improvement in patient well-being and comfort, and several wrote comments observing positive effects on contractions and dilatation; and
• 7% of the women receiving acupuncture had caesarean sections, compared with 20% among the non-acupuncture controls.
ACUPUNCTURE DURING PREGNANCY FOR REFLUX / DISPEPSIA
Department of Internal Medicine, Rio Preto Medical College, Brazil, conducted a study to observe the effects of acupuncture on symptomatic dyspepsia during pregnancy and to compare this with a group of patients undergoing conventional treatment alone. This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil. The results appeared in Acupuncture in Medicine, scientific journal published by the BMJ group.
A total of 42 subjects in the age group of 15 to 39 years at 15 to 30 weeks of pregnancy and dyspepsia symptoms were chosen for the study. These women were randomly placed into ‘to be treated with acupuncture’ and ‘not to be treated with acupuncture’ groups. Acupuncture was performed once a week, (sometimes twice if necessary) during 8 weeks. Traditional acupuncture, using sterilized stainless steel needles of 40 mm in length and 0.2 mm diameter, was performed respecting the classical acupuncture points including depth of insertion.
The results showed that the acupuncture group had significantly reduced symptoms of dyspepsia and, moreover, the capacity to sleep and eat increased in the acupuncture group. In the researchers’ words, ‘We could also see, in the case group, an increase in the capacity to sleep and eat, some aspects that usually deteriorate during the evolution of the gestation. A situation that is worse when a gravida (pregnant woman) suffers from dyspeptic disorders’. They found acupuncture to be an ‘effective means of reducing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for gravidas’.
1. da Silva JB, Nakamura MU, Cordeiro JA, Kulay L Jr, Saidah R. Acupuncture for dyspepsia in pregnancy: a prospective, randomised, controlled study. Acupunct Med. 2009 Jun;27(2):50-3 http://aim.bmj.com/content/27/2/50.long