Judy Bowen-Jones

Pregnancy is not an illness, it is a natural physiological state.

But being pregnant places considerable demands on your body which can produce symptoms and cause problems. Most of these conditions are not serious for mum or baby, but they can be unpleasant. Pregnancy related problems include:

  • Anxiety
  • Backache
  • Constipation
  • Cramp
  • Feeling hot
  • Headaches
  • Incontinence
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Itching
  • Morning sickness and nausea
  • Pelvic pain
  • Piles (haemorrhoids)
  • Sleeplessness
  • Swollen ankles, feet, fingers
  • Tiredness

During pregnancy, babies move about. By the time labour begins, most babies have settled into a head down position so they can be born headfirst through the birth canal. If your baby is still lying feet first with their bottom downwards at around 38 weeks, they are in the breech position and you will probably have to have a caesarean section. Your obstetrician and midwife will advise you.

Acupuncture in Pregnancy

Acupuncture treatment is safe to use throughout all stages of a pregnancy when undertaken by a properly trained and qualified practitioner (British Acupuncture Council, 2015).

According to a World Health Organization report (2003), acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for morning sickness and the induction of labour.

Studies indicate that acupuncture may be helpful in treating dyspepsia, anxiety, depression and emotional problems in pregnant women. Acupuncture has been shown to provide effective pain relief from back and pelvic pain in pregnancy.

The use of acupuncture and moxibustion, mainly the latter, for breech presentation is well documented. The technique has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and involves the use of moxa, a smouldering herb, on a specific point on the feet. Research suggests that for best effect the treatment should be performed around the 33rd or 34th week of the pregnancy.

Acupuncture may also help give pain relief during labour.

Acupuncture can help reduce symptoms associated with pregnancy and birth by:

  • Balancing hormone levels, including placental estrogens and prostaglandin levels, leading to increased tone of the uterus
  • Reducing inflammation by promoting blood and immune factors
  • Increasing relaxation and reducing tension
  • Altering the brain’s mood chemistry and reducing serotonin levels
  • Producing endorphins and changing pain processing in the brain and spinal cord

See also:


“Because acupuncture is safe to use in pregnancy we can use it to treat a range of health conditions, whether pregnancy related or not. If it’s your first pregnancy, it’s normal to feel anxious and emotional. Acupuncture is very calming and can really help. In addition to treating your pregnancy related symptoms, I will also treat any underlying non-pregnancy related imbalances to help support your pregnancy. Many of my pregnant clients come for monthly acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy to help them feel as healthy as possible in preparation for labour and motherhood. Good luck!”

Maciocia, G. (2007). Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier

West, Z. (2008). Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier

World Health Organization. Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials (2003), 87pp. Full report http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf

Research Fact Sheets

For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.