Pregnancy is such an extraordinary experience, but it can come with some quirks. The mom-to-be’s bodygoes through a series of physiological, anatomical, metabolic and psychological changes – the body is constantly adapting. It is not uncommon to experience some discomforts. Acupuncture can help!
Acupuncture During Pregnancy
Many moms-to-be sing the praise of acupuncture. In fact, scientific research reports acupuncture can help ease many of the common aches and discomforts of pregnancy. Acupuncture can have a beneficial role in complementary pregnancy follow-up and care.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of therapy, healing art, that originated in China thousands of years ago. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the premise of Yin and Yang, two opposing and complementary forces in the body. The body’s vital energy is called Qi (pronounced “Chee”) in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Qi flows through meridians (meridians are like channels) through our body. During an acupuncture treatment, hair-thin needles are inserted through th
e skin at specific points along the meridian to correct imbalances and restore a good flow of Qi.
In more modern theories, acupuncture is found beneficial by activating specific nerves and releasing trigger points. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help relieve other pregnancy symptoms.
Benefits of Acupuncture during Pregnancy
Many pregnant women have had good results with acupuncture for the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Reflux and heartburn,
- Swelling in the legs,
- Carpal tunnel syndrome,
- Back and pelvic pain,
- Anxiety and stress, and many more including
- Natural labour induction.
Some pregnancy symptoms have been more extensively researched:
- Morning sickness: Some studies have shown that acupuncture using Traditional Chinese Medicine points that targets the wrists can reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness.
- Lower back and pelvic pain: A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reported that acupuncture can ease pain in the lower back along with pelvic pain in pregnant women in their late second and third trimesters.
- Depression: Depression during pregnancy affects nearly one in four women. A study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology observed clinically-depressed pregnancy women who weren’t previously taking antidepressants. They received general acupuncture, acupuncture specific for depression, or massage for eight weeks. The severity of depression symptoms decreased most among women who received acupuncture for depression.
- Headaches: Numerous studies support acupuncture for pregnancy-induced headaches. Acupuncture significantly reduced the headaches and women who received it also used less medication.
- Sleep problems: Falling asleep and staying asleep can be problematic during pregnancy. Recent research has shown that women who received acupuncture slept better during pregnancy.
Acupressure During Pregnancy
Acupressure is an alternative to acupuncture; instead of using needles, pressure is applied through firm massage to the same acupuncture points. Studies have shown that acupressure can help reduce many pregnancy-related pain and other symptoms including:
- lower back pain,
- labour pain,
- nausea and
Acupuncture can also help with naturally induced labour and reduce stress and anxiety during labour.
Possible Risks of Acupuncture and Acupressure During Pregnancy
Acupuncture during pregnancy is considered safe and has few risks. Most risks are associated with acupuncture in general, such as soreness, redness or infection at the insertion sites, and injury from needles placed too deeply. These risks are minimized by point selection and technique by the trained certified acupuncturist.
There are several acupuncture points (like those around the ankle) that are said to be contra-indicated; they may induce contractions. These points are avoided until term. At this point, some moms-to-be choose to include them.
Additional Benefit to Acupuncture
Acupuncture sessions are very relaxing. They allow the pregnant woman to take time to lie down, rest, and relax- all things that have beneficial effects on her health!
This blog was written by Dr. Maryse Pion Robin. Dr. Pion Robin is a physiotherapist, chiropractor and acupuncturist.