Pregnancy and Acupuncture
While a large part of my practice involves the treatment of infertiliy, once the client has conceived she may opt to continue therapy. There are many reasons that clients who have used Chinese medicine to conceive will continue to work with us through the beginning of their pregnancy, to seek treatment toward the end of term, or use us to help them throughout the entire gestation. In the beginning of the pregnancy, usually through the first trimester, acupuncture can be very useful to minimize the chances of miscarriage due to uterine insufficiency. For women who have had previous miscarriages or who worry that they may carry a risk of such an occurrence may opt for this careful approach by using Chinese medicine. Additionally, acupuncture may be used to minimize or eliminate uncomfortable effects of pregnancy such as morning sickness, digestive problems, lowered energy and musculoskeletal pain - for which it can be extraordinarily effective.
Some women, by virtue of their age, risk factors or general health may opt to work with an acupuncturist throughout the entire pregnancy to ensure that her body remains as strong as possible and to minimize risk to the baby. The added bonus of this type of ongoing work is that labor and delivery is often quite a bit easier as a result.
Finally, many women will use an acupuncturist's services in the last month of pregnancy in order to help with a breach presentation of the baby, induce labor if the child is past term and the mother wants to avoid using chemical means of inducement or Caesarian section; or simply to ease the delivery.
All of these strategies can be very useful for a pregnant woman. Below I've included a few western medical studies demonstrate that the scientific community is beginning to recognize these benefits:
From the journal, Pain and Symptom Management, and summarized in Acupuncture Today, comes a study which demonstrates dramatic reduction in morning sickness in women receiving acupuncture versus placebo.
The Journal of Complementary Medicine, 2009 published a study in which it was showed that women who used acupuncture during their pregnancy and labor had much lower rates of Caesarian section and a subjectively higher rate of comfort during the actual labor process.
From the US Pharmacists journal comes a compendium of many other studies demonstrating the utillity of acupuncture for morning sickness.
From the Scandinavian journal, Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica comes a study evaluating the treatment of pelvic and low back pain with acupuncture, during preganancy. Not only did the study conclude that acupuncture was very effective at treating this type of pregnancy related pain, but it also found that it obtained a superior result to using physical therapy as the sole treatment for this type of discomfort.
Using acupuncture to treat pregancy and/or post-partum related depression often yields powerful results. And we see this quite often in our clinic. In The Journal of Affective Disorders, there is a study which demonstrates this positive effect.
In the Journal Obstetric and Gynecologic Investigation, a rat model is used to investigate the potential chemical basis for acupuncture's effect in preventing one type of miscarriage.
From an Austrian Obstetrics journal, Wien Klin Wochenschr, comes a study on the effectiveness of using acupuncture to induce labor and ripen the cervix.
A small study in the journal, Acupuncture Medicine, demonstrates the effectiveness of using acupuncture to treat the insomnia which can be connected to pregnancy in many women.
From Science comes this French study on the successful management of pelvic pain in pregnant women.