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Acupuncture and pregnancy

Date: Friday, 01 June 2007 00:00

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been used in China and other eastern cultures to restore, promote and maintain good health and energy levels for about 2,500 years.

Traditional Chinese philosophy states that our health is dependent on the body's motivating energy - known as Qi - moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin.

For any number of reasons, Qi may become unbalanced, which leads to illness. By inserting fine needles into the channels of Qi energy an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore its natural equilibrium. (and contrary to popular belief, you can hardly feel the needles!)

To assess how the energies are flowing in an individual's body an acupuncturist will feel the pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. The structure, colour and coating of the tongue also give a good guide to your health.

Is Acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe to have during pregnancy and is an effective option at a time when many women choose to avoid taking medicine for minor ailments. It is essential that you choose an acupuncturist who is trained and a member of a professional body such as the British Acupuncture Council.

How can acupuncture help during pregnancy?

Many conditions which routinely crop up during pregnancy would benefit from a natural solution. Acupuncture, when provided by a trained practitioner, can give relief for a range of pregnancy related conditions:

  • Morning sickness
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Tender breasts
  • Migraine and other headaches
  • Back ache
  • Pelvic pain (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)
  • Varicose veins

Acupuncture can turn breech babies

An adjunct technique to acupuncture called moxibustion has been used for many centuries   to turn breech babies. A herb called moxa is 'compacted' into a cigar shaped stick, one end of which is lit and it's slowly smoldered directly above an acupuncture point on the little toe.  Research is currently underway, but previous scientific studies have found promising results for the turning of breech babies; somewhere in the region of 80% success rate.

Acupuncture and labour

Acupuncture is used to induce labour in overdue pregnancies; it should only be used for induction when the mother has passed her due date and when written permission is provided by the patient's obstetrician.   Best results are seen seven to ten days after the treatment(s) but it can be immediate in most cases.

During labour acupuncture is used for pain relief and to boost the mother's energy if the labour is a long one. Acupuncture can also be used to restart labour if it has slowed down or if contractions have stopped.

After the birth

Acupuncture is used by new mothers to increase energy levels, to promote healing and to combat the 'baby blues'. It also is very helpful in treating mastitis.

As with all healthcare treatments, it's important to find a registered and qualified practitioner. To find a practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit

Research into acupuncture and pregnancy related conditions


  • Acupuncture has been proven to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. (2002, Adelaide University)
  • Acupuncture has been found to reduce the experience of pain in labour. A secondary outcome of acupuncture was a shorter delivery time. (2002, Skilnand)
  • Acupuncture has been proven to reduce pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy (2005, Institute for the health of Women and Children, Sahlgrenska Academy Gothernburg, Sweden)
  • 70% of women responded postively to treatment with acupuncture for depression during pregnancy. (2004, Stanford University)

BAcC practitioners are available for interview, expert comment and case histories.

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Press enquiries: Amy Seaman - Tel: (01903) 821550 /

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