This is probably a question that has crossed many a mind, pregnant or soon to be: is acupuncture safe during pregnancy? The short, no fuss answer? Yes! Acupuncture is actually quite helpful in relieving some of the discomforts that come with pregnancy. And though the idea of being poked with needles when you have so much else going on won’t appeal to you, it is worth a try, and here’s why.
As most expectant mothers are reluctant about taking medications for many of the pregnancy symptoms they experience, acupuncture is particularly well suited to aid in their relief as it is non-invasive and doesn’t require you to ingest anything. As such, several studies have been conducted by medical and acupuncture boards and organisations on the effects of acupuncture during pregnancy. These studies have concluded that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving morning sickness, lower back and pelvic pain, depression, headaches and sleep problems. Research has also suggested that it prevents premature labour and can be a safer labour induction option for overdue mummies-to-be.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, acupuncture can be a great help in alleviating fatigue, anxiety, morning sickness, constipation, nausea and headaches, making for a smoother transition into a heavier pregnancy. In the second trimester it can assist in the prevention of haemorrhoids, excessive weight gain, heartburn, pelvic and back pain, carpal tunnel and hypertension. In third trimester, it has been attributed to aiding in heartburn, edema, restless legs as well as pelvic and back pain.
Moxibustion, a technique normally used in conjunction with acupuncture, has been attributed to aiding in the turning of a baby from a breech position (feet down and head up) to cephalic position (head down) in readiness for birth. It has been shown to be most effective in weeks 33 and 34, right before the baby runs out of the room necessary to move from breech.
Acupuncture can also be used to induce labour in post-term mummies-to-be and is a healthier alternative to the biomedicine used for this purpose. Unlike it, acupuncture promotes labour naturally, giving your body the chance to prepare for birth, which means that labour will most likely occur only when your body is ready. Biomedicine on the other hand when administered to induce labour usually causes the uterus to contract even when the rest of the body is unprepared. This usually causes the contractions to be more painful, giving rise to the need for pain relief through the administration of more biomedicine in the form of an epidural. But the epidural, along with the pain relief it brings, will most likely slow or stop the contractions which will lead back to the very beginning of the cycle and end up being a very stressful process for mother and baby.
Getting acupuncture during your pregnancy could also mean a shorter labour period as well as a less painful one. It also significantly reduces the possibility of the need for any sort of intervention, be it a caesarean section, an epidural for pain relief or labour induction.
The benefits of acupuncture can be reaped all through pregnancy and labour, as well as postpartum (provided, of course, that you continue the sessions). After welcoming your little one into the world, acupuncture can help you heal form labour, whether it was natural or by caesarean.
It should be noted though that as some acupuncture meridians or points are said to induce labour, they should be avoided until term.