Acupuncture in Pregnancy
Acupuncture is an ideal treatment during pregnancy and can be used to assist with a range of pregnancy related conditions, offering women an alternative to taking medication. Acupuncture can also be used for the discomfort often regarded as part of a ‘normal’ pregnancy that just has to be endured.
The following list details the conditions I have treated using acupuncture:
o Nausea and vomiting
o Constipation and haemorrhoids
o Headaches and migraines
o Miscarriage and threatened miscarriage
o Breech and posterior presentation and induction
o Itching and rashes during pregnancy
o Fatigue and exhaustion
o Musculoskeletal conditions such as pelvic, back and hip pain
Prebirth acupuncture is given 3-4 weeks prior to the due date. It is a safe and effective treatment used to promote natural labour and enhance the prospects of an efficient labour.
Points are used according to the women’s constitution and pregnancy history and may include points to assist in cervical ripening, positioning the baby for optimum presentation during labour and promote optimal energy and stamina.
Research has demonstrated that the average duration of labour in a group of women giving birth for the first time was reduced from 8 hours and 2 minutes in the control group to 6 hours and 36 minutes in the group receiving prebirth acupuncture(1). An observational study involving 169 women receiving prebirth acupuncture compared to the local population showed there was an overall reduction of 35% in the number of medical inductions (43% for women having their first baby) and a 31% reduction in epidural rate. There was also a 32% reduction in emergency caesarean section and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births (2).
Breech babies are ideally treated between 34-36 weeks gestation. The treatment involves the use of moxibustion on point on the side of the little toe (Bl-67) to stimulate the acupuncture point. In this treatment the woman will be shown how to continue the treatment at home with a moxa stick. A follow up treatment is usually recommended.
Research into the efficacy and safety of using moxibustion to correct breech presentation was carried out on a group of 130 women having their first baby at 33 gestation and outcomes compared to 130 women having no intervention. After 1 to 2 weeks of moxibustion treatment 75.4% of women at 35 weeks gestation had cephalic presentation (compared to 47.7% in the control group)(3).
Acupuncture treatment to induce labour is given two to three days before a medical induction is planned. A one off treatment followed by self-administered acupressure is a practical and effective method for inducing labour. Even if labour does not commence spontaneously feedback suggests that women treated with acupuncture have a more efficient labour following administration of medication than those women with no prior acupuncture treatment, the need for further medical intervention is also reduced (4).
(1) Kubista E Kucera H. Geburtshilfe Perinatol. 1974; 178 224-9
(2) Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20
(3) Cardini F, Weixin H. Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation. JAMA 1998; 280:1580-1584
(4) Betts D. Acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth. Published by JCM, 2006; Chapter 21, p153