Acupuncture in Pregnancy

Treating pregnant women is my favourite thing in clinic. I get to share in the magic of this amazing time and talk about things I can get pretty excited about, like giving birth and babies, and women often respond to acupuncture at this time really, really quickly.

Acupuncture is an ideal form of treatment as it offers women drug-free relief for many of the problems that can arise and take the sparkle & glow out of a pregnancy.

Even conditions that are often considered a normal part of pregnancy, like morning sickness, sciatica and back pain, can be drastically improved increasing a woman’s quality of life and preventing these issues from becoming so serious they necessitate medical treatment.

Of all the acupuncture treatments I do in clinic for pregnancy, labour inductions would be the most common.

The World Health Organisation state that acupuncture for the induction of labour has been “proved through controlled trials to be an effective treatment”, this is pretty high praise as WHO are pretty rigorous with their endorsement of traditional medicines.

Personally I think you should take the time nourish yourself and have a few pre birth treatments from 36 weeks that help to encourage all those beautiful birth hormones for an efficient labour which also make it less likely you will need an induction (more on that in my next post), but there are instances where this treatment is useful in helping women avoid medical inductions.

While most babies will come when they are ready, sometimes there is pressure in the hospital system to birth your bub by a certain gestation and occasionally there are medical reasons a woman’s caregivers may want to move things along. Acupuncture can offer a good alternative to medical induction without associated increase fetal distress, epidiural use and the ensuing cascade of intervention associated with medical induction.

This is a strong treatment, not gentle and relaxing, but it can really get things moving! It can take more than one treatment sometimes to get labour established, so I advise people to give themselves a few days. Needles are placed at various points on the body, usually the sacrum, the ankles and feet, hands and sometimes even the upper back. In this instance I go for a much stronger needling sensation than I usually aim for, lots of needle stimulation and it can feel like a very strong treatment. I then send women home with some instructions on how to do some simple acupressure for the next day or 2, and we schedule in a second treatment a couple of days later, just in case.

During and after an induction treatment women usually experience lots of baby movement, and sometimes some contractions while the needles are in, and often contractions and some period like pain will ramp up over night. This will often progress into established labour, but if things settle down again we will do a second treatment to continue and build on the first in encouraging labour to commence.

Acupuncture has very broad applications in pregnancy, and is a very safe modality when performed by a fully trained, registered acupuncturist. So if anything crops up during your pregnancy that is detracting from your natural radiance, acupuncture may well be able to assist.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Nicole Trudgeon (Chinese medicine Practitioner). Nicole is a practitioner of acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine (AHPRA registered) at her Booragoon clinic and is also a sessional Chinese Medicine Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Perth campus.