Acupuncture for pregnancy care

Many people credit acupuncture for easing a wide range of pregnancy symptoms including heartburn, swelling in the legs, constipation, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, and more.

Acupuncture can also be applied to help with breech presentation, induction of labor, and pain relief during labor.

Here are some of the pregnancy symptoms acupuncture can relieve that science has studied:

  • Morning sickness. Some studies have shown that traditional acupuncture that targets the wrist can reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness, though other studies have found no effect.
  • Lower back and pelvic pain. Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reports acupuncture could reduce pain in the lower back along with pelvic pain. And a 2015 Cochrane Review for treating low back/pelvic pain in pregnancy found that acupuncture improved pelvic pain more than usual prenatal care.
  • Depression. Depression during pregnancy is common, affecting nearly one in four women — but a targeted type of acupuncture may help. For a 2010 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, during eight weeks clinically-depressed pregnant women who weren’t previously taking antidepressants received general acupuncture, acupuncture specific for depression, or massage. The severity of depression symptoms decreased most among women who received acupuncture for depression. And 63 percent of the women who received the depression-specific acupuncture responded to the treatment, compared to 44 percent in the general acupuncture and massage groups.
  • Headaches. Research has shown that acupuncture can reduce pregnancy-induced headaches; women who received it also used less medication.
  • Sleep Problems. Getting to sleep and staying asleep is trickier than ever during pregnancy — but some research has shown that women who receive acupuncture sleep better during pregnancy, too.

Major concerns regarding the use of medication during pregnancy justify the need for safer interventions. Acupuncture is an emerging alternative for several clinical conditions during this period.  16 reviews has been included in this study, The results support the proposal that acupuncture might be considered an option for alleviating pain during labour, for correcting breech presentation, and for managing pelvic and back pain during pregnancy(1).

In another study based in South Korea, no significant difference in delivery outcomes (preterm delivery and stillbirth) was observed between confirmed pregnancies in the acupuncture and control groups. Therefore, in pregnancy, acupuncture therapy may be a safe therapeutic modality for relieving discomfort without an adverse delivery outcome (2).

  1. Bergamo TR, Latorraca CD, Pachito DV, Martimbianco AL, Riera R. Findings and methodological quality of systematic reviews focusing on acupuncture for pregnancy-related acute conditions. Acupuncture in Medicine. 2018 Jun;36(3):146-52.
  2. Moon HY, Kim MR, Hwang DS, Jang JB, Lee J, Shin JS, Ha I, Lee YJ. Safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a retrospective cohort study in Korea. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2020 Jan;127(1):79-86.