Acupuncture in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing time of life, but can include a variety of new issues as your body changes. Acupuncture is a non-pharmacological option to relieve pregnancy-related complaints. Acupuncture 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 IAOM in Montpelier and Williston, we work with your primary care provider or midwife to determine how acupuncture can provide natural solutions during your pregnancy.

Moxibustion stick and dried mugwort leaves

Breech Positioned Baby

With your primary care provider’s consent, we employ acupuncture 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.

Prenatal Acupuncture

Sciatica and back pain can effect 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. It is recommended to have treatment for back pain, sciatica and pelvic pain during the end of pregnancy to reduce pain prior to labor. Recent studies showed a benefit of acupuncture for evening pelvic pain; pelvic and low-back pain; nausea; functional disability; and sleep quality.

Prenatal Acupuncture

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.


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    Labor Preparation

    With your primary care provider’s consent we will employ acupuncture techniques to deeply relax a full term pregnant person. 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. Studies suggest that acupuncture applied at term of pregnancy seems to be effective in reducing the rate of labor induction.

    This treatment is gentle and relaxing, but contractions may begin soon after. The providers at IA are experienced in treating women in all stages of pregnancy and have safely treated women prior to labor for years. We also teach our patients and provide a video for at home acupressure techniques. A recent study showed a reduction in pain and less need for cesarean section for people who used acupressure during labor and delivery.


    Many women who have managed their headaches and migraines with medications for years come to acupuncture to manage their pain once their care providers have recommended discontinuing medications during pregnancy. Acupuncture is safe and effective to use in pregnancy to naturally reduce headaches. Available studies about migraine headaches suggest that acupuncture is at least as effective as, or possibly more effective than, prophylactic drug treatment, and has fewer adverse effects which are crucial to consider in pregnancy.

    Postpartum Depression

    Postpartum depression affects 10-15% of mothers. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been helpful to new mothers for thousands of years. Our providers will discuss lifestyle, nutrition and herbal advice with mothers as well as offer acupuncture for depression. A small study showed both electroacupuncture and non-invasive sham acupuncture were effective for postpartum depression.



    Believe it or not, young children and infants also benefit from acupuncture and Chinese medicine. We frequently treat children for a wide range of issues including upper respiratory infections, torticollis, colic, difficulty breast feeding and post birth trauma. Our providers at Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston have experience treating children and are parents themselves. We strive to provide a comfortable experience for your child while tending to their health care needs, naturally.

    Acupuncture for Labor Induction

    I know what it’s like to hit the end of pregnancy. Week 40 and a half, 41. You’re ready to go into labor, but things just might not be going yet.

    Try some acupuncture. So what we’re going to do is relax your whole pelvic girdle, the muscles in your low back, muscles around your uterus. It’s absolutely safe to try acupuncture, especially with a specialized acupuncturist who works with people going into labor all the time.

    A gentle and relaxing treatment for about 40 minutes might even put you to sleep. A lot of people go into labor within 24 hours after acupuncture when they’re at the end of their pregnancy. It’s really comfortable and relaxing and safe.

    So if you’re at the end of pregnancy and you’re ready to go into labor naturally, talk to your midwife or provider and then come see us for acupuncture and we’ll help get things going.

    Safety of Acupuncture in Pregnancy

    Your and your baby’s safety is our number one priority. According to research, acupuncture during pregnancy appears to be associated with few adverse effects when correctly applied. Our acupuncturists are all nationally board certified and licensed, they each have received advanced, post graduate training in applying acupuncture during pregnancy. Our clinic’s rate of serious adverse effects during pregnancy is zero. The most common reports of side effects during acupuncture are sleepiness and discoloration or bruising, we expect 5-10% of patients to report this side effect.


    Vickers AJ, Vertosick EA, Lewith G, et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. J Pain. 2018;19(5):455–474. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.005
    Chou R, Deyo R, Friedly J, et al. Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(7):493–505. doi:10.7326/M16-2459
    Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA; Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(7):514–530. doi:10.7326/M16-2367

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