The Safety of Acupuncture in Pregnancy

While the efficacy of acupuncture in improving fertility has gained a lot of attention in recent years, many people still ask if it is safe during pregnancy. The answer is a resounding yes! We work with so many women to help them conceive, and naturally we continue to work with them once they’re pregnant.

Anyone who might be concerned about potential safety risks can take heart knowing that a wide body of research investigating the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy has deemed it very safe. A systematic review, published by J Park et al in 2014 included 105 separate studies on this topic. The most commonly reported minor adverse effects of acupuncture in these studies included fatigue, discomfort at the needling site, bruising, and heaviness — all with the conclusion that acupuncture poses no harm to mother or baby.

We know it’s safe, but what else? Acupuncture is extremely helpful for the discomforts that arise in pregnancy, including nausea, fatigue, heartburn, and pain. We work with our patients regularly throughout their first trimester addressing these very issues, and some women continue to seek treatment during their pregnancies for other issues that brought them in before, such as headaches, neck pain, and back pain. Given the limited number of pain relievers available to pregnant women, acupuncture is sometimes the only option.

Acupuncture also has a role late in pregnancy. One thing that can bring women in is when their baby is presenting as breech. In Chinese medicine, one of the most widely researched, studied, and effective methods for helping a breech baby to turn is moxibustion, an herb burned near a specific acupuncture point. Studies investigating moxibustion for breech presentation have found it to be both effective and safe. Another area where acupuncture is helpful in late pregnancy is in the weeks leading up to baby’s arrival. Recent studies as well as older ones all show that receiving acupuncture in the final weeks of pregnancy can help reduce the time spent in labor, as well as reduce the amount of medical inductions and emergency C-sections. It can also be extremely effective at reducing pain while in active labor; several hospitals here in the metro area have acupuncturists on their staff to help with this and other symptoms.

We absolutely encourage our patients to continue their acupuncture treatment during pregnancy because we know it to be safe and effective. Like any specialty, it is important to work with people who understand the unique needs of the body during this time. All of our acupuncturists have spent years working with women at every stage of pregnancy. If you’re wondering how we can help you, give us a call and set up a consult today.

[written by Molly]