Acupuncture and Its Effect During and After Pregnancy

By Pacific College - June 8, 2014

Acupuncture, a Chinese medical practice, has been used for thousands of years to treat many conditions in women during and after pregnancy.  Many more women are discovering acupuncture during their pregnancies in search of safe, drug-free treatments for their conditions.  Years of practice have shown that acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy enhance the health of the mother, prevent complications and influence the development of the baby.

Morning sickness is just one of many conditions that acupuncture is able to treat.  An Australian study reported that of 593 women less than 14 weeks pregnant, those who received traditional acupuncture treatments reported having less frequent and shorter periods of nausea than the women who received no acupuncture treatments, according to Pregnancy Today.  These improvements were felt immediately and lasted throughout the study’s four-week duration.

Acupuncture also treats conditions during the second trimester; it can alleviate heartburn, hemorrhoids and stress.  Acupuncture can bring relief from sciatica, backache, pubic and joint pain and even carpal tunnel syndrome during the third trimester.

Acupuncture as a Treatment for Depression During Pregnancy

Acupuncture is also used to treat depression during pregnancy.  Up to 10 percent of women will experience depression during pregnancy.  Women who are already predisposed to depression are at increased risks during pregnancy because of enpdocrine changes.  Untreated depression in pregnant women might lead to adverse effects for both mothers and infants.  Also, postpartum depression is more likely to occur if depression during pregnancy goes untreated. Depression that goes untreated may lead to poor maternal health behaviors, such as substance abuse; recklessness; poor eating, sleeping habits.  Also, there is evidence that depression in pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum depression.

Antidepressant therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, because antidepressants may harm the fetus. Many pregnant women are reluctant to undergo pharmacological treatment for their depression because its side effects.  This is why many more women are turning toward acupuncture to treat depression during pregnancy.

A Stanford University study did show that women who responded to acupuncture treatment reported significantly less depression at 10 weeks postpartum.  Overall, 69 percent of the women responded to the acupuncture specific for depression, a rate comparable to the 50 percent to 70 percent response rates in clinical trials of standard depression treatments.  The study concluded that acupuncture holds promise as a safe and effective treatment of depression during pregnancy.

Acupuncture in Labor and Postpartum Recovery

Besides treating depression, acupuncture can turn beech babies.  Moxabustion, a type of acupuncture, was applied to 130 pregnant women with breech presentations. Moxabustion significantly increased the number of headfirst births, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Acupuncture is used during labor, itself, to reduce pain and boost energy.  It can also help stimulate contractions without the use of drugs.

Acupuncture is even used after birth.  It restores the mother’s energy levels after the stress of birth, alleviates depression and anxiety.  It is also used to relieve backache and other kinds of pain once the baby is born.

Chinese medicine identifies more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected with pathways called meridians that conduct vital energy or qi throughout the body.  Illness or symptoms are associated with an imbalance of this vital energy.  Acupuncture uses hair-thin, disposable needles to stimulate specific areas associated with organ functions in order to restore balance and help the body maintain its own health.

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