The Benefits of Acupuncture During Pregnancy


A lot of clients ask me if it is safe to receive acupuncture during pregnancy. The answer is “Yes.” Not only is acupuncture safe, it’s also an effective option for treating many common conditions that occur throughout pregnancy without taking prescription or over-the-counter medications.

In the first trimester, treatments focus on fatigue, nausea, and dry heaving and typically begin at the first sign of morning sickness. Separate treatments can target the flow of blood in the uterine lining and placenta, which stimulates the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and waste and carbon dioxide to the mother. Some acupuncturists recommend that women who have experienced pregnancy loss receive more frequent appointments during the first trimester in order to keep the body strong over the course of pregnancy.

Because stress during pregnancy can increase the body’s production of the hormone cortisol, acupuncture treatments during the first trimester also focus on reducing stress by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing the production of endorphins that naturally lower cortisol levels.

Treatments during the second trimester focus common conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Successfully addressing these conditions improves quality of life measures such as sleep, mood, and interest in social activity. In addition, treatments for heartburn help improve appetite, which is important for ensuring that both baby and expecting mother receive the nutrients they need.

As a baby continues to grow through the third trimester, acupuncture can relieve accompanying symptoms such as back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Moxibustion, either on its own or along with acupuncture, can increase fetal activity, which can help move a baby from a breech position to a heads-down position.

From week 36 onward, treatments focus on softening the cervix and reducing overall stress and anxiety during labor and delivery. Studies have shown that women who receive acupuncture in preparation for labor are more likely to enter labor without medical induction, deliver faster, and avoid a Caesarean section.

Acupuncture throughout pregnancy can address a large range of conditions, including constipation, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension), hemmorhoids, and edema (swelling). Treatments can be tailored to each of these conditions, so be sure to tell your acupuncturist which specific symptoms you are experiencing.

Acupuncture is a safe and low-risk option for expecting mothers who want to treat the many medical conditions associated with pregnancy without over-the-counter or prescription medications that may cause further complications. Many treatments are available, so be sure to talk to your acupuncturist about your symptoms and concerns.

Ask Your Acupuncturist

Can acupuncture benefit me after I give birth?

Yes. After giving birth, new mothers can receive acupuncture and moxibustion to promote healing, boost energy levels, and address conditions such as post-partum depression, incontinence, insufficient breast milk flow, and recovery from a Caesarean section. Together, these treatments focus on restoring balance in a new mother’s body.