Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. But it can also be quite challenging navigating all the hormonal changes and fatigue from the required blood production that your baby needs during the gestation period. Once you get pregnant, or if you already are pregnant, we support your body as it undergoes the complex and beautiful changes during pregnancy. We can help treat many common symptoms and complaints and even work with women during and after delivery on things like back pain, headaches, nausea, milk production issues, postpartum depression and other concerns.
Many of our patients have never been to an acupuncturist, so we take the time to make sure all of your questions are answered and that you are informed and comfortable with the treatment plan.
We specialize in Pregnancy Acupuncture and have extensive postgraduate training in maternity acupuncture. Our approach is gentle and compassionate. We use all natural, safe and effective treatment protocols to support you emotionally and physically as your body undergoes all the beautiful and dynamic changes during pregnancy and the postpartum months.
We are members of both the Obstetrical Acupuncture Association (OBAA), and the Maternity Acupuncture & Peer Support (MAMPS) professional group, and hold Board Certification with the Acupuncture & TCM Board of Reproductive Acupuncture (ABORM).
Acupuncture for Pregnancy: Then & Now
For over 3000 years Chinese and East Asian Medicine have promoted specialized treatment for pregnancy care and postpartum recovery. Today this care is becoming increasingly popular and used by specially trained acupuncturists and midwives in countries such as Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, and here in the US, where acupuncture is available in specialized antenatal clinics and maternity hospitals.
Pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery are viewed in Chinese and East Asian medicine as a window of opportunity to enhance the pregnant person’s well being. Conversely, if adequate care is not taken the resulting problems may continue long after the birth. Value is placed on promoting preventive care to strengthen the mother and baby as well as addressing any problems as they occur during pregnancy. Acupuncture can be used in a variety of ways to promote fetal and maternal health.
Our approach is simple, we use natural, straightforward treatment protocols to improve your overall health and reproductive function. Acupuncture, cupping, and moxa done during pregnancy is a safe and gentle, and may be an effective way to help treat many of the common symptoms experienced during pregnancy, such as:
- Morning sickness: nausea and vomiting
- Headaches and migraines
- Swelling and varicose veins
- Back pain or other pain (round ligament pain, pelvic pain, etc)
- Anxiety & Depression
- Threatened Miscarriage
- Recovery after Miscarriage
- Assist with turning a breech baby
- Labor preparation for natural delivery
- Postpartum recovery and/or depression
- Lactation support
Acupuncture can be used at any point during a pregnancy as symptoms arise, however it is best to plan for a series of treatments several weeks or months ahead for the best possible treatment outcomes. Each trimester is unique and we have a developed a specific protocol for nourishing and supporting the mother and growing baby for optimal health and wellbeing. Many of our patients choose to use acupuncture throughout their pregnancy for general wellness and relaxation.
- Mothering Magazine: 10 Beneficial Ways Acupuncture Can Help Pregnancy
Acupuncture for Nausea During Pregnancy
Acupuncture is often very effective in reducing both the severity and incidence of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Research from Australia (1) highlighted that women receiving traditional acupuncture (where points where chosen according to an individual diagnosis) experienced faster relief when compared to those groups receiving routine prescribed points or “sham” acupuncture. This research also looked at the successful pregnancy outcomes for the women involved, concluding that “acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy” (2).
Acupuncture for Hypertension in Pregnancy
Acupuncture can have an important role in assisting to reduce high blood pressure, especially if treatment is commenced early when hypertension is first noted. The effectiveness of acupuncture will be reflected in the improved blood pressure readings and blood tests used by midwives and prenatal specialists to detect possible complications. As hypertension has the potential to escalate quickly, and complications leading to preeclampsia is a concern, ongoing medical monitoring remains essential throughout pregnancy.
Acupuncture for Musculoskeletal Pain in Pregnancy
Back pain, rib pain, sciatica and pubis symphysis pain are common in pregnancy and can all be markedly reduced with acupuncture. Research from Sweden (3) concluded that when compared to physiotherapy, acupuncture was the treatment of choice for pubis symphysis and sacroiliac pain.
In addition, we use cupping for sore low backs and hips, and find this to be one of the absolute favorite and effective treatments for our pregnant patients, they LOVE cupping!
Acupuncture for Breech & Posterior Babies
The New Zealand Evidence Based practice guidelines for care with Breech presentation (4) recommends that moxibustion may be offered from 33 weeks gestation. This follows research from Italy (5) that demonstrated moxibustion can have a significant effect in helping to turn breech babies. Ideally treatment is at 34 –35 weeks, but can still be useful when used later in the pregnancy. Acupuncture and moxa treatments can also help babies that are not in the optimal position prior to birth, such as those in a posterior position.
We provide acupuncture in addition to our moxa protocol for women and pregnant people seeking assistance to help turn their baby. Each person has their own constitution and presenting Chinese medicine pattern and it is therefore most effective when we diagnosis and treat them in our clinic for a combined therapeutic effect.
Acupuncture for Labor Preparation
There is worldwide concern with increasing rates of medically induced labor and operative birth. Many pregnant people come to us seeking help in order to avoid medical or surgical interventions in childbirth.
There are seven trials reporting on 748 women using different acupressure points. One study examined the initiation of labor and six studies examined labor duration and/or pain levels. Results suggest acupressure may reduce the length of labor particularly in the first stage but further research is required. Click here for the research.
We recommend acupuncture treatment for labor prep to begin five to six weeks prior to the due date to prepare the pelvis and cervix. This is followed by one treatment per week until labor begins. Research from Germany (6) indicated the potential for a more efficient active stage of labor, and a New Zealand study with midwives (7) indicated a reduction in pregnant people requiring medical intervention, including medical induction and caesarean section.
Acupuncture for Natural Labor Induction
Acupuncture can provide a gentle inducement to labor if the baby is overdue and can be an effective alternative to a medical induction. Research from Norway (8) on the use of acupuncture for pregnant people with premature rupture of membranes (PROM) concluded that “Ideally acupuncture treatment should be offered to all women with PROM and other women who wish to use this method to facilitate their birth and keep it normal.”
Acupuncture for Pain relief During Labor
Acupuncture offers drug free alternatives for pain relief during labor (9). Acupressure provides similar results (10) with the advantage that support people can use it during labor. We offer free handouts and personalized instruction for each birth partner accompanying a pregnant person in our clinic.
Acupuncture for Postnatal Care
Acupuncture has techniques to promote recovery; these include “mother warming” treatments that can be given by a partner, advice on diet and the use of specific strengthening and blood building herbs. Other conditions that can be helped by acupuncture include; insufficient lactation, wound healing and scar tissue repair, postnatal depression and urinary incontinence.
Please call our clinic at 360-393-8302, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.
Pregnancy Acupuncture Research
1 Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). “Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial.” Birth. 29(1):1-9.
2 Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002). “Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.” Complement Ther Med. 10(2):78-83.
3 Elden H, (2005) Ladfors l, Fagevik Olsen M, Ostaard H, Hagberg H. “Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercises as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised single blind controlled trail.” British Medical Journal;330(7494):761.
5 Cardini F, Weixin H. (1998). “Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation.” Journal American Medical Association. 280:1580-1584.
6 Kubista E, Kucera H. (1974). On the use of acupuncture in the preparation for delivery, Geburtshilfe Perinatol; 178(3):224-9.
7 Betts D Lenox S ( 2006) Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study of its use in Midwifery practice. Medical Acupuncture. Vo 17 No 3.
8 Gaudernack L, Forbord S, Hole E. (2007) Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin . A randomised controlled trial. Midirs Midwifery Digest. Vol 17, No 2.
9 Hantoushzadeh S. Alhusseini N. Lebaschi A. (2007) The effects of Acupuncture during Labour on Nulliparous Women: A Randomised Controlled trial. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 47:26-30.
10 Chung UL J.( 2003) Effects of LI 4and BL 67 Acupressure on Labour Pain and Uterine Contractions in the First Stage of Labour. Nurs Res. 11(4):251-60.
We also offer Telehealth appointments for Healthy Pregnancy Consultations
Call us at 360-393-8302 to schedule your appointment.
During these Pregnancy consultations we will provide you with
- Evidence-based resources and guidelines for you to stay healthy during pregnancy
- Information on how to reduce duration of labor and offer techniques for pain management
- Guidance on how to reduce the possibility of medical interventions in labor
- Individualized guidelines and support for self-care, managing stress, and labor preparation