During pregnancy, the body experiences a number of shifts and changes. Unpleasant symptoms, including nausea and aching backs and hips, can arise during this transformative process. Many expectant mothers face limited options for effective pain relief, as ibuprofen may endanger the health of the fetus, particularly after 30 weeks. In recent years, more women across the U.S. are turning to acupuncture for a holistic approach to common pregnancy symptoms. While more robust studies are still needed to fully understand the extent of its benefits, acupuncture shows promise as a natural and safe form of pain relief during pregnancy.
Is Acupuncture During Pregnancy Safe?
While there was some debate around the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy, especially in regards to certain traditionally “forbidden” acupuncture points that could stimulate preterm labor or other adverse effects, the scientific literature generally supports the safety of prenatal acupuncture. A scientific review of existing literature and studies found that “given the numerous evidence-based indications for obstetric acupuncture and lack of evidence of harm, risk: benefit assessments will often fall in favor of treatment.” If you are interested in acupuncture treatments during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to inform your physician or midwife of your intention so that you receive comprehensive and holistic prenatal care.
Reducing Nausea Symptoms During Pregnancy
During the first trimester of pregnancy, most women report some degree of nausea, ranging from mild to severe. Approximately 3 percent of pregnant women develop hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes excessive nausea and vomiting that can last through the 20th week or longer. These intense bouts of nausea can lead to dehydration, weight loss, and electrolyte imbalance. While medications, such as serotonin antagonists, may effectively reduce nausea and vomiting, they may be some risk to fetal development. Fortunately, acupuncture provides a natural alternative for women suffering from nausea and vomiting. One study showed that the use of active acupuncture and intravenous fluid therapy improved outcomes for women. It’s suspected that acupuncture influences somatovisceral reflexes in the gastrointestinal system, leading to a reduction in nausea and vomiting.
Acupuncture for Back and Hip Pain During Pregnancy
As a woman’s body expands to accommodate the fetus, lumbopelvic pain becomes common. Lower back discomfort and hip pain can limit a woman’s mobility, making daily tasks more difficult. According to a 2018 study, women who received weekly acupuncture treatments targeting points for alleviating lumbopelvic pain reported a reduction of symptoms. Participants in this study were given a customized treatment plan to address their specific areas of discomfort, underscoring the importance of a personalized approach.
If you are interested in how Five Element acupuncture can support you during your pregnancy, call Inner Works Acupuncture in northwest Portland at (503) 227-2127 today to schedule an appointment.