Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture and Pregnancy

We all know that acupuncture can help increase your fertility and chances of getting pregnant, 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.

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!  Since your acupuncturist can’t actually be with you during labor, ask him 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. Are you pregnant and want to add acupuncture to your healthy regimens? Call our office at (304) 263-4927 today to schedule your appointment. Dr Terry Chambers is a board certified acupuncturist licensed in WV.




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