Important to know: Chronic health conditions should be addressed under direct medical supervision of your GP or consultant, and acupuncture would be an adjunct or complement to usual care – we advise that you let you doctor know when you use this approach.
Acupuncture may be used to help support pregnancy, by relieving morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) and may help nausea and dyspepsia in pregnancy, may be useful in addressing pregnancy related lower back pain, as well as post-caesarian pain; and by also giving the mother-to-be emotional support through a time of transition and new life (Smith et al, 2002, Khorram et al, 2005; Xu, et al, 2012; Manber et al, 2010).
Acupuncture may also be helpful in labour induction and may help relieve labour pain (Lim et al, 2009).
Moxibustion has been shown in several systematic reviews of research studies to have a positive effect in correcting breech presentation (Vas et al, 2009; Li et al, 2009; Van den Berg et al, 2008).
Acupuncture is safe in pregnancy with a qualified acupuncturist.
About the research: It is worth noting that in research, randomised controlled studies (RCT) are the most reliable in terms of quality of evidence, with a systematic review or meta analysis of numerous studies being the best way of seeing the overall picture of the state of the evidence. Below we have a selection of the available research, which does include some larger RCTs, and reviews of the literature alongside smaller studies. The n= figure tells you how many people were participants in the study.
British Acupuncture Council evidence based factsheet about Childbirth including specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in this condition.
See our Fertility and Pregnancy page for full details on the studies and mechanisms of the above.
The British Acupuncture Council has several relevant evidence based factsheets about Women’s Health, including specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in these conditions.
BAcC Childbirth and acupuncture factsheet
BAcC Obstetrics (pregnancy and childbirth) and acupuncture factsheet
BAcC Puerperium (postnatal / postpartum) acupuncture factsheet
Our own page on Fertility, Pregnancy and Acupuncture
The British Acupuncture Council also has a review paper on Gynaecology and acupuncture: The evidence for effectiveness
Khorram, N.M.; S. Horton, V. Sahakian The Effect of Acupuncture on Outcome of in Vitro Fertilization Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 84, S364 Published in issue: September 2005
Li, Xun, Jun Hu, Xiaoyi Wang, Huirui Zhang, and Jianping Liu. Moxibustion and other acupuncture point stimulation methods to treat breech presentation: a systematic review of clinical trials. Chin Med 2009;4:4.
Lim, Chi Eung Danforn; Jenny Wilkinson, WS Felix Wong, Nga Chong Lisa Cheng Effect of Acupuncture on Induction of Labor Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) 11/2009; 15(11):1209-14.
Manber, Rachel PhD; Schnyer, Rosa N. DAOM, LAc; Lyell, Deirdre MD; Chambers, Andrea S. PhD; Caughey, Aaron B. MD, PhD; Druzin, Maurice MD; Carlyle, Erin MS; Celio, Christine MS; Gress, Jenna L. BA; Huang, Mary I. MS; Kalista, Tasha MA; Martin-Okada, Robin BS; Allen, John J. B. PhD Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. ObstetGynecol 2010;115:511-20
Smith, C; Crowther, C and Beilby, J (2002) Acupuncture To Treat Nausea and Vomiting in Early Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial Birth Volume 29 Issue 1, Pages 1-9
van den Berg I, Bosch JL, Jacobs B, Bouman I, Duvekot JJ, Hunink MG. Effectiveness of acupuncture-type interventions versus expectant management to correct breech presentation: a systematic review. Complement Ther Med 2008;16:92-100.)
Vas J, Aranda JM, Nishishinya B, Mendez C, Martin MA, Pons J, Liu JP, Wang CY, Perea-Milla E. Correction of nonvertex presentation with moxibustion: a systematic review and metaanalysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol.2009 Sep;201(3):241-59.
Xu, Jin; MacKenzie, Ian Z.The current use of acupuncture during pregnancy and childbirth Current Opinion in Obstetrics &Gynecology. 24(2):65-71, March 2012.