Unique Benefits of Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! The next nine months will be full of excitement, revelations, and challenges.  As your baby develops, your body may go through changes that all the preparation and research can’t prepare you for.  Acupuncture is a proven safe and effective way to help you through this period and create the best environment for your baby’s developmental needs.  Many moms-to-be already know to seek out acupuncture for common pregnancy symptoms such as:

  • morning sickness
  • low back pain
  • breech baby
  • delayed labor

There are some less commonly known benefits of getting acupuncture treatments during pregnancy that can greatly improve the health of both mom and baby.

Acupuncture can help prevent miscarriages.  Acupuncture can help prevent non-genetic related miscarriage by reducing cortisol and prolactin levels (1) and elevating progesterone (2).  Cortisol is commonly known as the “stress” hormone and when elevated can contribute to miscarriages. Elevated prolactin and reduced progesterone both impair proper implantation.  

Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the umbilical artery.  A Doppler study shows that certain acupuncture points increased blood flow to the fetus.  Acupuncture led to change in the velocity of blood flow, improved microcirculation in utero and improved the tone of the blood vessel (3).  Improving circulation to the baby means more nourishment and immunological support. This is why we, in this field, call babies whose mother received regular acupuncture treatments “Acu Babies” because of their health and vitality.  

Acupuncture can ease labor pains during delivery.  Patients often come seek acupuncture to trigger labor but did you know that regular acupuncture throughout pregnancy and especially during the third trimester can reduce overall labor pains?  A large study conducted on over 600 women showed that moms who received acupuncture treatments reduced the need of pharmacological and invasion methods compared to those who did not. Additionally, the mean AGPAR score and umbilical cord pH levels were significantly higher in the acupuncture group (4).  An AGPAR score measures the physical health of your baby at birth. In other words, it is your child’s first report card. The doctor tests the baby’s respiration, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and circulation (5). The umbilical pH will indicate if the baby is in distress or lacks oxygen (6).

Acupuncture strengthens both you and your baby’s immunity.  Moms are acutely worried about getting sick while pregnant. In addition to the added discomfort of sickness, many medicines are prohibited in pregnancy and illness compromises the overall health of mom and child.  Acupuncture can help regulate immunity by increasing the components of white blood cells that protect our body from infection. Acupuncture has also been shown to reduce inflammation associated with an immune response (7).  Chinese medicine believes it is better to prevent disease or intervene in the early stages rather than treating it after the onset. That is why regular acupuncture treatments are so important to prevent getting sick or to nip infections in the bud right away.  

These are just some of the ways that acupuncture can improve your gestational health and benefit the baby.  In the hands of a well-trained practitioner, acupuncture is completely safe during pregnancy and can make the nine months a lot less difficult for moms.  

References

Betts, Debra, Dahlen, Hannah G., Smith, Caroline A. (2012, March 22). Acupuncture as a Therapeutic Treatment Option for Threatened Miscarriage. BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342918/

Borup, L., Wurlitzer, W., Hedegaard M. (2009, March). Acupuncture as Pain Relief During Delivery: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Birth. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19278378

Fengxia, Liang, Xianghong, Jing. (2015, August 5). Acupuncture and Immunity. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540978/

Higgins, Chris. (2014, October). Umbilical-Cord Blood Gas Analysis. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://acutecaretesting.org/en/articles/umbilical-cord-blood-gas-analysis

Kaneshiro, Neil K. (2016, December 9). Apgar Score. MedlinePlus. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003402.htm

Xiong F, Gui J, Yang W, Li J, Huang GY. (2015, January 21). Effects of Acupuncture on Progesterone and Prolactin in Rats of Embryo Implantation Dysfunction. PubMedRetrieved December 5, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24802234

Zeisler, H., Eppel, W., Husslein, P., Bernaschek, G., Deutinger, J. (2001). Influence of Acupuncture on Doppler Ultrasound in Pregnant Women. Ultrasound Obstetrics Gynecology, vol 17; pgs 229-232. Retrieved December 5, 2018 from https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1469-0705.2001.00221.x