Pregnancy and Acupuncture
Pregnancy is a time when most women wish not to or cannot take drugs to alleviate or reduce common symptoms of pregnancy and prepare for birth. Acupuncture is ideally suited .
Acupuncture clinics for pregnant women are available within the UK health system, in a clinic in New Zealand, in hospitals in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Of course, it is commonly used in Asian countries such as China and Korea. For a time it was available in a NSW maternity clinic.
Commonly assistance was sought in these overseas clinics for labour induction, birth preparation, nausea and vomiting, depression and anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, back and hip pain, carpal tunnel, bleeding in pregnancy, breech babies, and constipation.
The information on New Zealand and UK clinics and the list of services they provide are only to allow clients to gain a view of how Acupuncture is being used in other countries. It is not representative of the conditions treated at this clinic.
How acupuncture has helped pregnant women in a NZ hospital
At an outpatient acupuncture clinic in a NZ hospital assistance has been sought for:
- back pain
- pelvic/hip pain
- emotional support
- headache/ migraine
Less common issues that acupuncture treatment has been sought for include
- rib pain
- upper back pain
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- uterine pain
- gestational diabetes
- hypertensive disorders
- bleeding in early pregnancy
- pregnancy rashes
- eczema, thrush
- sinus pain
- chest infections
The use of acupuncture in obstetrics and gynaecology
in a UK hospital
Acupuncture is becoming more readily available in the UK. In some hospitals the service is offered alongside traditional hospital practice, treating pregnant and postnatal women, who receive treatment from as early as six weeks of gestation until six weeks postnatally. Acupuncture is, in theory, ideal for childbirth. Being ‘drug‐free’ and therefore having no harmful teratogenic effects, women may feel happier about receiving this type of treatment in their pregnancy. For many years obstetricians and midwives have felt frustrated at not being able to offer women effective treatment for the minor ailments of pregnancy, which for some women may be far from minor.
Acupuncture treatment has been sort for:
- morning sickness
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- headaches and migraine
- backache and sciatica
- breast soreness
- discomfort due to sinus conditions
- varicose veins
- vulval varicosities
- abdominal pain
- hyperemesis gravidarum
- anaemia and
Acupuncture was also requested to aid in the correction of malpresentation, induction of labour and pain relief in labour. Postnatally , for the relief of perineal pain, breast engorgement, mastitis, postnatal depression and insufficient lactation.
Below are some conditions seen at this clinic, however if you have been recommended to seek assistance with a condition not mention it may be advertising restrictions do not allow me to place it here. Please call me to discuss on 0422 044 259.
Induction of labour/ Birth Preparation
The aim of inducing labour is obviously to start the contractions, but we need also to encourage a successful labour, one that has minimal discomfort and progresses easily to delivery. In order to do this birth preparation may be part of the labour induction treatment chosen, guided by information from your midwife or obstetrician and your signs and symptoms. Labour induction can also be of help when contractions have started but are not progressing, contractions may be coming and going, have started but are now stopping, or coming regularly but not dilating the cervix. Treatment helps co-ordinate your contractions, and this is the ideal time to show your birth partner acupressure points to assist your contractions and provide pain relief. Sometimes the time needed by mother nature isn’t available before your induction is planned, but don’t despair should acupuncture induction not result in labour, its ability to help ready the cervix increases the chances of a successful and gentler western medical induction.
The 2017 Cochrane review by C Smith was unable to conclude acupuncture did induce labour partially because of a change in the definition of labour induction to 24 hours. It did note acupuncture increased cervical favourability. 4 studies within this review which used electro acupuncture (the method used in this clinic) reduced time to delivery, increase spontaneous labour and reduced c sections.
In 2015 this study showed the use of only 2 acupuncture points did not reduce labour pain or cortisol levels compared to sham acupuncture, but did reduce labour duration. Asadin, Maharlouei N, Khalili A, Darabi Y, Davoodi S, Raeisi Shahraki H, Hadianfard M, Jokar A, Vafaei H, Kasraeian M (doi:10.1016/j.jams.2015.08.003. Epub 2015 Sep 11).
A 2018 study by I Neri, L Pignatti, F Fontanesi, F Facchinetti (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2018.06.001) Found applied at term acupuncture reduced the rate of medical labour induction, and reduced oxytocin use.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting often occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, a time of rapid foetal development, and because of this many woman would prefer not to take medication. Questions around possible birth defects associated with the latest medication prescribed for nausea are making more women look at natural alternatives. Why nausea and vomiting occurs is not understood, and it can make daily life unbearable.
Back, hip and pelvic pain
The effect of ligament softening hormones, weigh gain and changes in the centre of gravity mean that back hip and pelvic pain are common complaints in pregnancy. Discomfort can become so severe that normal daily activity can become impossible. Acupuncture has been shown to give better relief than physiotherapy, exercise and supportive belts for low back pain and pelvic pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Ranging from numbness and tingling at night to constant hand pain and an inability to grasp objects carpal tunnel is common in pregnancy, often related to an increase in fluid in the wrist (oedema).