How Can Acupuncture Help During My Pregnancy?


Pregnancy is an amazing time of life, but can include a variety of new issues as your body changes. Acupuncture in pregnancy successfully treats morning sickness, sciatica, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and acid reflux. At the end of your pregnancy, you may hear about acupuncture for turning breech positioned babies and induction of labor. At Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston, we work with your primary care provider or midwife to determine how acupuncture can provide natural solutions like acupuncture in pregnancy in Vermont.


Morning Sickness

Chinese medicine successfully treats morning sickness and has been thoroughly researched and proven. We view morning sickness as a disharmony between the Liver and Stomach, often due to underlying deficiency of the Spleen and Stomach. With acupuncture focusing on directing the Qi downwards and harmonizing the middle (Spleen and Stomach) we achieve quick results to decrease nausea. We also focus on the underlying deficient pattern to prevent the nausea and/or vomiting from continuing. A study from 2004 proved the effect of acupuncture on morning sickness.


Acupuncture In Pregnancy For Sciatica


Sciatica can affect women often in their third trimester when the excess weight can press on nerves and cause pain. We use gentle acupuncture techniques to relax muscles and increase circulation while women comfortably rest. Often acupuncture creates immediate effects and women will notice a reduction in pain right away. When the acupuncture needle is inserted, the body naturally reacts by reducing muscular tension and increasing circulation of blood. The body also releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer while the needles are resting. We may incorporate moxibustion, cupping, and/or infrared heat therapy to further relax muscles and reduce pain. We often end a treatment for sciatica with deep tissue massage, or tuina, and stretches. It is recommended to have treatment for sciatica during the end of pregnancy to reduce pain prior to labor. Acupuncture in pregnancy, in all trimesters, is safe and effective. 


Breech Positioned Babythumbnail-41


With your primary care provider’s consent, we employ acupuncture in pregnancy and moxibustion therapies to try to turn breech or other non-favorable fetal presentations between weeks 31-37. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian.


According to Chinese medicine, providing moxibustion to the acupuncture point Bladder 67 (or Zhi Yin) at the small toe will create warming energy (Yang) in the pelvic floor. This warming energy will cause movement. As the uterus is also situated in the pelvic floor, the movement will cause the baby to move which can result in the turning of the baby. According to western medical science, moxibustion and acupuncture improve blood circulation in the uterus. This increases the chance of the baby turning spontaneously. In addition, moxa stimulates the adrenal glands and the hormones they produce. It also positively affects the muscular tissue of the womb. This causes the baby to become more active and ultimately, could turn.


Artemesia Vulgaris, or Mugwort, is the herb used in this technique. A modern application uses a stick of the herb, which is ignited and held over the small toe of the woman. A mild heat is felt at the toe while the woman comfortably rests in a reclining chair or supported on a table. The heat is held over the left and right small toes for 15-30 minutes. Additional acupuncture points may be chosen to further encourage relaxation of the uterus and to encourage the baby to turn. We train patients to continue the technique at home and recommend return acupuncture treatments as needed.


Labor Preparation


With your provider’s consent, we will employ acupuncture techniques to deeply relax a full-term pregnant woman. While we do not “induce” labor like pitocin may, we open the gates of Qi and create a movement of Qi and blood that frequently allows women to begin labor. This treatment is gentle and relaxing, but contractions may begin soon after. The providers at IAOM are experienced in treating women in all stages of pregnancy and have safely treated women prior to labor for years.


We are happy to educate our patients and their labor partners in proven acupressure points for minimizing pain during labor and encouraging labor to begin at home. We will take the time to teach you and provide handouts for you to use during the birthing process at Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston.