Acupuncture during Pregnancy: Benefits and Side-effects

Acupuncture in Pregnancy – Benefits and Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Priyanka Kalra (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

When a woman gets pregnant, tips and recommendations pour in from all side. These also include medicines, herbal remedies and therapies which may fall into the realm of experimental or alternative medical therapy. Acupuncture is also one of those, which could cause many mothers to raise their eyebrows since it involves poking needles into your body. But it’s a lot more than that.

What is Acupuncture?

What is Acupuncture?

Passed down from the traditional healing methods that emerged in China many centuries ago, acupuncture works on the principle of establishing the flow of energy back in the body. The therapy works on understanding what obstacles might be present that obstruct the flow of energy through the body and aim to resolve those. This is conducted by making use of needles that are as thin as a hair. These are pierced into the skin in certain locations that are termed to be important in re-establishing the balance of energy and bringing immense relief.

Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?

Most pregnant women have attained a good result after undertaking acupuncture. A medical therapy that has been practised for thousands of years, it has time and again shown its benefits.

How Does Acupuncture Help When Pregnant?

Here are some of the benefits of acupuncture for pregnant women during different trimesters.

In the First Trimester

Acupuncture during the first trimester is primarily meant to focus on preparing your body for the pregnancy. It makes sure to emphasise on an all-around healthiness that helps create a strong support system for you and the baby. The needles are pierced in those locations of the body that are known to strengthen the pregnancy, reduce the chances of miscarriage, as well as help mothers move ahead from the tendencies of exhaustion and consistent nausea.

In the Second Trimester

Towards the second trimester of the pregnancy, acupuncture starts taking on an active role. It begins to help mitigate any problems that arise such as pain in the lower region of the back and the pelvis, repeated headaches or even depression. Hormonal balance might also be essential that can bring about a regulative action on digestion, set the mood right and bring about a healthy endocrinal growth that benefits the baby, too.

In the Third Trimester

As the third-trimester sets in, the acupuncture techniques are emphasised in ensuring that the labour sets in at the right time and the delivery is as easy as possible. Early labour using this technique is not initiated unless you have completed at least 39 to 40 weeks of pregnancy and there are no complications related to pregnancy.

Benefits of Acupuncture in Pregnancy

Acupuncture can help relieve several pregnancy symptoms like,

1. Morning Sickness

Immense relief from morning nausea and the vomiting sensations.

2. Headaches

Reduced number of pregnancy-related headaches and migraines.

3. Backaches

A substantial decrease or even complete treatment of pain in the lower back.

4. Hormones

Normalising of hormone levels, leading to better moods and positive attitude towards life.

5. Mood

Relief from stress and anxiety, bringing in an immense sense of relaxation.

6. Acne

Treatment of acne since the hormone levels start normalizing themselves.

7. Insomnia

A surprising side-effect of attaining relief from insomnia or even haemorrhoids due to acupuncture.

Risks or Side Effects of Acupuncture While Pregnant

  • Acupuncture tends to trigger certain functions in the body when specific points are stimulated. At times, these points could also result in contractions of the uterus, which could result in premature delivery or a miscarriage.
  • Short acupuncture sessions that are roughly around 20 minutes or so are optimal. Resorting to extended sessions can put your body under undue stress.
  • Acupuncture is also a known technique to help with delayed deliveries since it induces labour. Therefore, care must be taken to not accidentally stimulate those points.
  • An untrained or amateur acupuncturist who does not have experience with pregnant women could stimulate the wrong points.
  • If the acupuncturist is not a professional, the needles could cause injuries or infections.

Tips for Acupuncture During Pregnancy

If you are considering acupuncture during pregnancy, keep these following tips in mind.

1. Consult a Doctor Before Acupuncture

Before proceeding with any kind of remedy or therapy that doesn’t fall under usual medication procedures, get your doctor’s advice. The views of your doctor might differ based on their experiences of dealing with patients earlier. If so, he might even ask you to observe certain precautions before opting for the therapy, since you may or may not be on some medications or have complications related to pregnancy.

2. Carefully Choose the Acupuncturist

Acupuncture points for pregnancy are extremely sensitive and need to be stimulated the right way. Therefore, it is important to choose an acupuncturist who has the proper license for practice and is highly experienced, especially in dealing with therapy for pregnant women.

3. Consider the Cost

An acupuncture procedure may not be limited to a single session. It could span over a number of sessions, depending on what you intend to achieve from the therapy. Per session costs of the therapy could build up without you being aware. This is also a good time to check if your medical insurance covers the therapy so that you can opt for that as well.

4. Watch Out for Signs of Trouble

Acupuncture is known to help induce labour in cases of delayed pregnancies. If that is not the goal of your therapy, then be highly aware of how the therapy makes you feel. In case of presence of any contraction-related feelings in the uterus, or any other feeling that makes you feel discomfort, stop the therapy immediately and contact your doctor. Always be alert of the warning signs in pregnancy!


1. How Often Should I Go for Acupuncture When Pregnant?

The amount of sessions and the frequency of them varies from person to person, as well as the goal of the therapy, too. The usual safe way to begin the therapy, given that your pregnancy is healthy and free of any complications, would be around a couple of times in a month. As it starts working well for you, it could be further raised up to as much as once each week.

2. Can Acupuncture Prevent Miscarriage?

No therapy or procedure, medical or alternative, can guarantee to prevent miscarriage, since the conditions that can cause miscarriage are quite varied. One of the effects that acupuncture does cause in the body of the pregnant mother is regulating her hormones. Due to this, the uterus and other muscles are also affected that can further keep the emotional balance and the strength in place. These, as a result, can reduce the chances of unfortunate miscarriages from taking place.

3. Can Acupuncture Turn Breech Babies?

A technique used along with acupuncture is known to work in this regard. It is termed as moxibustion. What it does is make use of the moxa herb that is put together in a stick, resembling a cigar. This is then allowed to gradually smoulder over the acupuncture point of the little toe. 80% results have revealed breech babies to attain an optimal position after this procedure. However, please involve your gynaecologist before and during the procedure.

4. Can Acupuncture Help to Induce Labour?

Yes, but this is only opted for when the delivery has been delayed and the doctor recommends a go-ahead for inducing labour. At times, acupuncture might work rather quickly in inducing labour, or it might even take a few days. It also helps reduce the pain which provides a boost of strength during delivery, or it can help restart contractions, should a mother get exhausted during labour.

5. Will Acupuncture Benefit Me Post Delivery?

Certain mothers do opt for acupuncture after they are done delivery the baby since it helps them keep their energy levels high and also combat post-partum depression.

Acupuncture is quite an alternative therapy that needs time to be embraced wholeheartedly. By knowing the right information and working with a professional who knows which acupuncture points to avoid during pregnancy, you can work your way in attaining immense relief during your pregnancy as well as have a successful and safe delivery.

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