I’m often asked “when should I get acupuncture during my pregnancy?” Everyone needs something tailored to them, so it varies. Recommendations are based on making it easier for you to get through the trimester. To make it a bit easier for me to break this down, we’ll cover each trimester at a glance.
Please note that everyone responds to acupuncture at their own pace, some more quickly than others. The recommended number of treatments are estimates and plans are adjusted throughout services based on improvements.
Nausea, Vomiting, and Reflux
Acupuncture is effective at regulating and reducing nausea. This helps mom muster through the handwork her body is going through with growing a baby. Research was done on 593 women 14 weeks or less pregnant experiencing nausea and vomiting in their first trimester. Treatment was given to the acupuncture group, twice the first week and then once a week after. Treatments were 20 minutes long. Women in the acupuncture group experienced less nausea by week two and reduced dry wretching by week 3, with overall improvement in general health (measured as vitality, social function, physical function, mental and emotional health). The sham acupuncture group found reduced nausea and dry wretching by week 3 and the control group saw no changes.*
I recommend coming in as needed for acupuncture to help the nausea to subside. Ideal treatment is twice the first week and then once each week after until nausea has subsided. Recommendations on lifestyle will be made as well: hydration, herbs that are safe during pregnancy to consume to reduce nausea, acupuncture, acupressure and even an abdominal massage. Mamas will go home with ear seeds to use to reinforce their treatment.
Energy is sluggish, your body is working so hard to create this beautiful baby and you have zero energy to do anything! Sometimes the act of slowing down can help with energy. More often than not, acupuncture is the perfect place to have a deep restorative nap. Based on your consultation, acupuncture ( in addition to your diet and lifestyle) will become a major focus to help you get through the first trimester. Specific foods and drinks are recommended to this time to promote ease in digestion to help you conserve your energy. Meditation during your sessions are also encouraged to help you decompress during this exciting time. Treatments average may last from 6 -12 weeks.
Not A Darn Thing Bothering You: You Crave Self Care
Amazing! You’re probably glowing and moving through pregnancy enjoying it. There are treatments to boost your vitality and promote relaxation in the muscles as your body changes. An acupuncture point called “Beautiful Baby” requires the use of a golden needle to promote health and development of the baby. It also reinforces the yang energy in the body. Treatments are as needed or desired for prevention and maintenance.
As your blood volume increases, you may feel “stuffy.” Increased pressure in your nasal cavities can make you sound congested and possibly experience sinus headaches. Acupuncture, with simple dietary changes can help you relieve that pressure. Self care acupressure techniques are also given to reinforce treatment. Once a week for at least 6 weeks.
Pelvic Pain/Round Ligament Pain/Sciatica/Low Back Pain
I lumped this up as pain management for everyone. Ideally, treatments should be 2 times a week, until pain is near to completely reduced. Maintenance is done to complete treatment in once a week treatments . I’ve seen women respond immediately in their first treatment or 6+ times to reduce pain and not have it come back. Reduction in discomfort should be felt immediately in a treatment. The idea is to address the immediate discomfort and reinforce the treatments to taper off the pain with each subsequent session. Acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, and cupping may be used to help increase blood flow, reduce tension and reduce inflammation allowing mama to get around (or nest) with ease!
Breech Presentation and Optimal Positioning
Breech presentation can be stressful for a mom to get baby head down. One method to promote optimal positioning is moxibustion. The treatment requires 10+ days of moxa to promote repositioning (or ideal position it occipital anterior). I often teach mom how to administer at home after the first session and follow up for any questions and to check in.
Research has shown that starting moxibustion as close as possible to the 34 week mark promotes optimal repositioning. Treatments focus on promoting movement from the baby to change position, increasing blood flow in area thus relaxing ligaments over the sacrum and uterus.**
Cervical ripening helps promote increased blood circulation, softens the cervix, addresses any anxieties or stress for the upcoming birth. This is my favorite time to see a mama in pregnancy as it’s full of anticipation. My goal is to help provide peace and relaxation and getting closer to a natural birth if she wants to avoid induction.
Research has shown that acupuncture may reduce the time between due date and actual delivery.***Acupuncture treatments may start at 38 weeks and go once a week to the due date. If starting on the due date, every other day is recommended. If an induction is scheduled, treatments should be given daily at least 3 days prior to the induction.
Mother Warming Session
One of my favorite treatments involves acupuncture and moxibustion over the lower abdomen the week after delivery. The first month after mom delivers, the body is very open. This treatment warms the channels that run over the uterus and aid in reducing after pains, cramping, and promotes blood production and restoration of energy. It’s very gentle and a comforting treatment. I think its a wonderful way of honoring a new chapter in a mama’s life and starting her self-care regimen so she can better take care of her baby. Ideal timing for this session is done within the first two weeks after baby arrives.
Baby Blues/Post Partum
With a sudden shift in hormones, lack of sleep and high demands from a newborn, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 3 out of 4 women may experience a form of baby blues within a few short weeks after delivery or postpartum depression. Acupuncture can help smooth out the shift in hormones working on the endocrine system, reduce inflammation and work on the lack of energy and need for sleep. Completely restorative and recommended on a case by case basis based on needs. Acupuncture, acupressure, herbs and lifestyle recommendations are made.
If there is a topic in pregnancy you don’t see here, I’d love to hear from you. You may call me or email me and I’ll get back to you! 480.426.9251 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J (2002). “Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial.” Birth. 29(1):1-9.
**Cardini F, Weixin H (1998). “Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation”. Journal American Medical Association. 280: 1580-1584.
***Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P (2001). :Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term-a randomized controlled trial”. Wien Klin Wochenschr:; 113 (23-24):942-6.