Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine | Pregnancy

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Pregnancy

If you are interested in making an Appointment with one of our team or would simply like to see if Acupuncture may be appropriate for you, please feel free to contact the Clinic on (03) 87197373 or Book Online below 

At Balanced Life Health Care we work alongside your obstetritian and GP, right through from trying to conceive right throughout pregnancy, and beyond. Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine aids in managing common complaints, and aims to support the general wellbeing of mother and infant.

 

For some women Pregnancy is a very healthy time, however for many women Pregnancy is a time of great change and with this change comes discomfort from common health complaints. In these cases expectant mothers are often looking for a natural alternative safe option during this precious time. Acupuncture can be included as part of your Pregnancy Health and Birth Plan. Below is a discussion on the current research that has looked at Acupuncture and some common symptoms that present in pregnancy:

 

Back & Pelvic Pain during Pregnancy

 

Back and pelvic pain is common in expectant mothers often in the later stages when extra pressure is placed on the lower back and pelvis as the baby size increases. However it also can occur in the earlier phases. Our Acupuncturists at Balanced Life Health Care, often work with women experiencing lower back and pelvic pain. Acupuncture along side exercises can help keep women moving during Pregnancy.

 

Most recent reseach suggested that Acupuncture could improve pregnancy related pelvic pain. The authors suggested that Acupuncture is considered superior to usual care (5). Acupuncture is also superior to exercise for reducing pelvic pain (5). A previous study showed that acupuncture “relieved pain and diminished disability in low-back pain during pregnancy better than physiotherapy” in a study comparing acupuncture to standard physiotherapy care (6).

 

Headaches

 

Headaches are common in pregnancy, it is believed that the sudden changes in hormones occurring in early pregnancy bring on headaches. However the cause is currently unknown (9). For some of the causes see article here.  Acupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce the severity and duration of tension headaches in a recent systematic review of the research (8). The cochrane datebase, which is the gold standard for medical research, suggests that “a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache” (8).

 

Morning sickness

 

Nausea during pregnancy is often dismissed as a minor complaint. However it is up to 80% of women who suffer from some symptoms (1) and for some women it can be a big disruption in their lives, especially when it includes vomiting or dehydration. Morning sickness is self limiting in most cases, often resolving after week 14 of the pregnancy. Many women are willing to try Acupuncture because of its low side effects and is often used in a combination with;

 

  • B6 supplementation
  • Eating, drinking or supplementing Ginger
  • Chromium supplementation
  • Balancing blood sugar by eating regular snacks during the day
  • Resting
  • Acu-pressure or travel sickness bands
  • Medication prescribed by your GP or obstetrician
  • Other herbal anti nausea products prescribed

 

The major risk is dehydration and it is important to monitor hydration levels, seek help from emergency medical care if you cannot hydrate sufficiently. This occurs in 1% of women (1). For most pregnancies the morning sickness is uncomfortable but harmless to the mother and infant. We always advise to seek medical advice from your GP or obstetrician if symptoms persist.

 

In research terms the evidence bases is considered unclear (2). However due to the limited side effects, many women turn to Acupuncture before seeking medication. On a positive note, older research performed in South Australia (3) found that Acupuncture although not effective to reduce vomiting, Acupuncture is an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy. Data collected on perinatal outcomes, congenital abnormalities, pregnancy complications and newborn outcomes found that there were no significant differences between the study groups (3), leading the authors to conclude that no serious adverse effects arise from acupuncture during early pregnancy which is great news!

 

Pre-birth Acupuncture

 

Pre-birth Acupuncture is the use of Acupuncture in the lead up to the natural birth process traditionally starting at 36 weeks. Weekly sessions are aimed at increasing readiness of the body physically for labour. The most recent review of research was conducted in 2017 showing that Acupuncture and Acupressure may increase the readiness of the cervix for labour but did not reduce Caesarian section rates (10). Previous small scale studies ( 169 women receiving pre-birth Acupuncture) showed a 35% reduction in the number of medical inductions (primigravida 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate. When comparing midwifery-led care only, there was a 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery and a 9% increase in normal vaginal birth. While not an RCT, the outcome of this study clearly suggests that pre-birth Acupuncture could have a therapeutic effect in assisting women to achieve natural, vaginal birth and reduce the likelihood of medical intervention (11).

 

Other conditions

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has been used for hundreds of years, however it is considered an antidotal medicine, that means that many of the treatment protocols were developed in the past thousand years by clinical experience. Only recently have we seen Acupuncture being used in clinical trials. This is unfortunate, despite historical use as many of the conditions that Acupuncture has been used in the past to provide relief have not been subjected to proper clinical trials to ascertain effectiveness so we cannot provide information on these conditions due to regulations of AHPRA.

Post-natal Acupuncture

If you are interested in making an Appointment with one of our team or would simply like to see if Acupuncture may be appropriate for you, please feel free to contact the Clinic on (03) 87197373 or Book Online below 

References

  1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/morning-sickness
  2. McDonald, John & Janz, Stephen. (2016). The Acupuncture Evidence Project : A Comparative Literature Review (Revised). Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, Coorparoo
  3. Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002) Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomised trial. Birth. Mar:29 (1):1-9
  4. Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J (2002). Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Complement Therapy Med. 2002 Jun; 10(2):78-83.
  5. Liddle SD, Pennick V. Interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015(9):Cd001139
  6. Wedenberg K, Moen B & Norling A. (2000). A prospective randomised study for comparing Acupuncture with physiotherapy for low-back pain and pelvic pain in pregnancy, 79 (5), 331-335
  7. Manber R., Schnyer, R., Lyell, D., Chambers, A., Caughey, A. & Druzin, M. (2010). Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.Obstetrics and Gynecology, 115, 511–520.
  8. Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Fei, Y., Mehring, M., Shin, B., Vickers, A., & White, A.R (2016). Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD007587. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2
  9. http://www.pregnancy.com.au/pregnancy-information/discomfort-during-pregnancy/headache-in-pregnancy.shtml
  10. Smith, C.A., Armour, M. & Dahlen, H.G. (2017). Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD002962. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002962.pub4
  11. Betts D, Lennox S. (2006). Acupuncture for pre-birth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture. May; 17(3):17-20