Maybe you’ve never seen an acupuncturist or maybe you’re a passionate devotee. Regardless of whether or not you’ve ventured into acupuncture, we’d love to explain in the ins and outs of this ancient practice—and why it could be good for you before, during, and after your pregnancy.
Traditional Chinese medicine views the body as two opposing forces (yin and yang). When an imbalance occurs, it blocks qi, or the flow of energy along the body’s internal pathways (also known as meridians). During acupuncture, a healing art that originated in China thousands of years ago, hair-thin needles are inserted into points along the meridians to restore the qi and, as a result, correct imbalances in the body and internal organs.
Acupuncture can be used at any point of your pregnancy journey, from preconception through the postpartum period. It’s been shown to be beneficial to the mother, with no negative side effects.
First off, acupuncture is beneficial for women’s health, no matter if you’re trying to get pregnant or not. It provides a deep calm, similar to yoga, so it doesn’t hurt to seek out an acupuncturist at any point in your life!
For women trying to conceive, acupuncture can help calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety, and enhance circulation—all factors that improve fertility outcomes. Because acupuncture is a process-oriented medical intervention with cumulative results, it’s better to do more than less (similar to physical therapy). Oftentimes, acupuncturists recommend women receive acupuncture for a few consecutive months before getting any fertility treatments such as IVF or donor egg transfer to enhance success rates.
There are several reasons you may seek out an acupuncturist during pregnancy. The most common are morning sickness, bodily pains (back and pelvic), insomnia, natural induction, calming anxiety, depression, and turning breech babies.
It may seem counterintuitive to practice different forms of self-care (like acupuncture!) right after you give birth: you have a brand new life to take care of, so many dishes to do, and in those first hazy days, even finding time to shower can be challenging.
But that’s exactly why it’s so important! A healthy mama makes for a better mama. Numerous studies have shown acupuncture to have a tremendous impact on women’s physical and mental health in the first weeks and months after delivery; it’s effectiveness against postpartum depression was documented by this study in 2014.
In the United States, all but six states require acupuncturists to be licensed. Each state has different parameters in place. We highly recommend that you choose an acupuncturist who is seasoned in maternal health and certified by the National Certification Commision for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM Board-Certified™) to ensure you’re receiving proper care.
This may seem like a trick answer, but the needles do not hurt! You may feel a slight numbness or tingling sensation, but that’s the extent of the pain.
Yes! in 2006, a study found that women who received acupuncture treatments pre and post-embryo transfer had significantly higher pregnancy rates. Plus, there were no negative side effects or risks associated with acupuncture.
Many studies have found that acupuncture can have a tremendous effect on morning sickness as well as sciatic pain, heartburn, and hemorrhoids. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine outlines some of the findings here.
Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to greatly reduce the effects of postpartum depression in numerous studies, including this one in 2018 that found the combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to be beneficial.
We recommend consulting your healthcare provider prior to taking any supplement or herb! Fertility and pregnancy can be a tricky balance and because different supplements and herbs can have different effects, you should not take anything that’s not cleared by your provider.
The cost of an acupuncturist varies. The average visit is $50-$90, but can be higher for fertility-focused treatments. Some insurance companies cover acupuncture and many offices offer a sliding scale.