by Kathleen Rushall
Morning sickness is one of the first clues of pregnancy as well as one of the first discomforts. For many women, happy tidings are marred with nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. With acupuncture, women can safely modify these inconveniences with a natural solution. Morning sickness varies greatly in each woman, and the name is misleading – this misery is not confined to the mornings, but can take place at any time of day and last for hours. With acupuncture treatments, the severity of the condition will lessen as well as the frequency with which it occurs.
In a 2004 study conducted by University Hospital in Sweden, 36 women were divided into four groups.1 There were two groups, each studying a different form of acupuncture (two methods of acupuncture were used: bilateral manual AP of the Pc 6 (Neiguan) acupoint (group 1, n = 10) and bilateral APr of the Pc 6 acupoint) and a control group for each of these. The results revealed that 90% of the women involved in the acupuncture groups had a positive antiemetic (vomit prevention) outcome. The doctors concluded that both acupuncture and acupressure (the act of applying physical pressure to acupuncture points with hands, elbows, or other devices) were extremely effective in the relief of morning sickness and overall nausea.
Dr. Donnica Moore, a doctor and advice columnist of women’s health, also addressed the efficacy of acupuncture for morning sickness. In response to a question about this use of acupuncture, she states “There is clear evidence that needle acupuncture is efficacious for adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. Many practitioners use it for nausea of pregnancy as well.” She cites a recent study conducted by the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in which 33 women with hyperemesis (a severe form of morning sickness) were treated with acupuncture. In this study, after two active acupuncture treatments, only 7 of 17 women were still vomiting, compared with 12 of 16 women who received placebo acupuncture. According the study authors, the effects of active acupuncture could be seen “often within minutes of stimulation.”
In his article, “Acupuncture During Pregnancy,” Jonathon Hardcastle takes acupuncture’s benefits a step further and discusses pregnancy in the later trimesters. Acupuncture can help women with more problems than just morning sickness. Hardcastle states “Acupuncture has been used to successfully treat heartburn and hemorrhoids in the second trimester.In the third, it can provide relief from sciatica (which is inflammation or pain in the sciatic nerve of the back – often the baby will be pressed against it), joint pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome, which many women develop later in pregnancy.” In fact, acupuncture has even been known to help turn a breech baby in the womb, and can also help to stimulate labor for an overdue baby. Many women find that acupuncture-induced labor is easier than labor induced by drugs such as Pitocin.
A primary concern of mothers and doctors alike is the vulnerability of a fetus to medication and its adverse effects. Acupuncture is a safe, healthy, and natural means of reducing pain and discomfort for a variety of afflictions during pregnancy. It will not negatively affect the baby’s health or development, unlike the possible side effects of some Western medication. When performed in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular medical appointments, acupuncture can help women to reach their goals of a healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy.