Although pregnancy is a natural process, and not an illness that needs ongoing treatment, it often comes with a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that can be challenging to address. From backaches and heartburn to muscle cramps and extreme fatigue, many women find themselves facing a whole of discomforts during their pregnancy.
But, how do you get relief when most medications are off limits for the safety of your unborn baby? Thankfully, seeing an acupuncturist while pregnant is a great way to get safe, gentle, drug-free relief from many common pregnancy discomforts and symptoms. The treatments are virtually painless, and there are no negative side effects for you or your growing baby.
1. Relief of Common First Trimester Ailments
Much like prenatal massage during each trimester (1), acupuncture can be combined with other treatments and adjusted to target specific symptoms as your pregnancy progresses. These two treatments are often combined to combat common pregnancy ailments. The influx of hormones during the early stages of pregnancy can bring on feelings of extreme nausea in many pregnant women. According to a study (2) that was conducted on women who were hospitalized for nausea and vomiting during the early stages of their pregnancy, acupuncture is an effective way to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. Women who received acupuncture during this study had fewer issues with nausea.
Other common ailments during the first trimester include fatigue, constipation, and headaches. Acupuncture treatments are extremely relaxing, which is especially helpful for moms to be who are dealing with insomnia. Getting proper sleep is so important for combating fatigue. Acupuncture can also be helpful for relieving headaches and migraines, as well as a host of digestive issues, including constipation.
2. Decreased Pelvic and Lower Back Discomfort
Moving into the second and third trimester, many women experience discomfort in their lower back and pelvis caused by the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy. About half of pregnant women deal with this issue, but most decline traditional treatments for fear of using analgesic medications during pregnancy. In fact, this pain can be so severe for many women that it disrupts their ability to work or carry out other normal activities during late pregnancy.
The good news is, acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative to drugs that can provide significant relief of pregnancy-related lower back and pelvic pain. According to one Swedish study(3), acupuncture treatments conducted during the second and third trimesters provide significant relief with little to no risk to mother or baby, and without the use of pharmaceuticals.
3. Acupuncture Could Help Turn a Breech Baby
Moxibustion, when used in conjunction with acupuncture, has been shown in some trials (4) to be effective for turning a breech baby, thus reducing the need for cesarean deliveries. While the technique does not miraculously turn the baby, it does help the walls of the uterus to relax, which gives the baby more room to move. As shown in the study, many babies will follow their natural instincts and use this newfound space to turn head down for delivery.
4. Reduces the Need for Induced Labor
When a woman has gone past her due date, her doctor may recommend chemically inducing her labor. For the woman who desires a natural childbirth, this can be heartbreaking. Electro acupuncture can stimulate labor in many cases. It can also get things moving along more quickly when labor is sluggish.
5. Prepares the Body for Labor and Delivery
Acupuncture sessions conducted during the last days of pregnancy can help the body prepare for childbirth. The treatments can relax the pelvic muscles and encourage the cervix to dilate. Some women experience shorter and easier labor and delivery, thanks to these effects.
6. Relieves Depression During and After Pregnancy
As many as 15% of women experience issues with depression during their pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes and body image issues. For many, taking antidepressants while you’re pregnant isn’t the best option. Acupuncture has been shown (5) to be a safe way to relieve depression during pregnancy without the use of pharmaceuticals. Acupuncture is also effective in the treatment of postpartum depression.
Science shows that acupuncture is an effective way to relieve many discomforts during pregnancy. As long as you see a properly trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is considered to be quite safe during pregnancy, with little risk to the mother or baby. Be sure to choose a practitioner that’s licensed and has experience working with pregnant women. And, of course, it’s always a good idea to talk with your OB before seeking out acupuncture treatment during pregnancy because he may have some recommendations.
- Prenatal Massage NYC; The Yinova Center; YinovaCenter.com
- Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial; NCBI; PubMed.gov; March 2002
- Acupuncture for Lower Back and Pelvic Pain in Late Pregnancy: A Retrospective Report on 167 Consecutive Cases; Oxford Academic; Academic.Oup.com; September 2001
- Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study; NCBI; PubMed.gov; April 2004(5) Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy; MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health; WomensMentalHealth.org
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