Acupuncture During Pregnancy – Benefits, Risks and Precautions

5 min read

Written by Ajanta Biswas

Ajanta Biswas

pregnant woman getting acupuncture

Aches and pains are a big part of most pregnancies. While you may want some quick relief, pregnancy is not the time to swallow painkillers. So, what do you do? You go for massages, stretch your muscles and just wait for the pain to vanish. Have you ever considered acupuncture during pregnancy?

While you cannot avoid certain injections or multiple blood tests during pregnancy, will you opt to get stuck by multiple needles at the same time around a single spot? Acupuncture is very well known for its effectiveness and benefits. But, will a pregnant woman receive similar benefits as those women who are not pregnant? Let’s dive in to know more about acupuncture, its benefits, and its risks during pregnancy. 

In This Article

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese technique to treat pain, and stress, and improve your overall health. It aims to balance the Chi (the flow of energy) in one’s body. Acupuncture is common across most parts of the world today.

How Is Acupuncture Done?

therapist doing acupuncture

Acupuncture is done by inserting needles as thin as your hair strand into your skin. A certified professional will target certain spots around the area of pain and insert the needles for a stipulated amount of time. You may feel tiny pricks when they insert the needle and sometimes may feel it being pulled out.

Difference Between Acupuncture And Acupressure

Both are Chinese treatment techniques. Some of the biggest differences between the two are

  • Acupuncture – It uses needles and is done by a professionally trained therapist.
  • Acupressure – It uses just pressure and is a non-invasive treatment. Acupressure also needs the supervision of a therapist.

Top 5 Benefits Of Acupuncture During Pregnancy

woman getting acupuncture during pregnancy

Inserting needles, however tiny they are, can be very concerning, especially during pregnancy. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy if you opt for acupuncture during pregnancy, with your doctor’s approval of course.

1. Headaches 

Many pregnant women suffer from chronic headaches triggered by the various changes happening in their bodies. Sometimes, these headaches are triggered by hormones and may last throughout the pregnancy, making it very hard to carry on with a regular routine. Acupuncture can stimulate the nerves to ease your migraine or tension headaches during pregnancy.

2. Morning Sickness 

Some studies have found evidence that acupuncture targeting certain spots on the wrist can help ease your nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy. The opinion is very divided and not all studies agree with this.

3. Heartburn 

Indigestion and heartburns are other common phenomena in pregnancy, especially in the later part. Acupuncture can help by modulating the communication between your gut and your brain, thus improving digestion.

4. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

As many as 62% of pregnant women have reported carpel tunnel syndrome at some point in their pregnancy. it is a very common complication that causes numbness or a tingling feeling in the fingers. Acupuncture can help remap the brain and relieve these symptoms.

5. Lower Back Pain

Pregnancy hormone relaxin softens your joints and ligaments. It can not only affect your movement and balance but can add more pressure to your back, leading to lower back pain. Acupuncture is a safe alternative to medicines and painkillers, to treat lower back pain during pregnancy.

How Does Acupuncture Help During Labor?

acupuncture therapist during pregnancy

Acupuncture targets certain spots and alters your hormonal levels. It can calm you down and relax your body, in preparation for labor. When your body and muscles are relaxed, it is easier for your pelvis to open and the cervix can dilate faster for labor.

Some believe that acupuncture can stimulate the hormones for labor and help ripen the cervix. Not everyone opts for this method but some women who have crossed their due dates and see no labor symptoms opt for acupuncture to stimulate labor.

According to some studies, acupuncture can

  • Ripen your cervix by triggering the right hormones
  • Induce labor
  • Shorten your labor
  • Reduce post-delivery bleeding

Acupuncture Points To Avoid During Pregnancy

Even if you are getting treated by a licensed professional, you need to be aware of the pressure points to avoid acupuncture during pregnancy.

Points on your sacrum, slightly above your ankles, and the fleshy point between your thumb and forefinger can trigger contractions and hence have to be avoided. Pressure points near your lower back and lower abdomen have the risk of the needle going in too deep, so must be avoided. Massaging your lower back or lower abdomen during pregnancy is not safe either. So remember to stay away from all these 5 points, be it acupuncture or acupressure.

How To Choose Acupuncture Therapists?

Here are some points to look out for when you choose your therapist

  • Check if they are licensed
  • Check if they have experience in treating pregnant women and ask for reviews
  • Ask your doctor or other women who have undergone these treatments during pregnancy, for recommendations
  • Do their beliefs align with your needs? If they are for or against any type of delivery or pregnancy practices, you need to be cautious.
  • Try to choose a therapist who is in close proximity, to avoid unnecessary traveling during the end of your pregnancy

Risks of Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Applying the needle to the wrong spots can stimulate contractions. If you are close to your 40th week, this may not be a problem but if you are in your first trimester, this can even lead to a miscarriage.

When done by qualified professionals after getting your doctor’s approval, the chances of complications or severe reactions are rare. Overall, the risks are very minimal and can be avoided with professional guidance.

Precautions To Be Taken For Acupuncture During Pregnancy

It is important to be very careful when you are pregnant. If you are planning to undergo acupuncture during pregnancy, please take the following precautions

  • Get your doctor’s approval for both the treatment and the therapist
  • Keep a close watch on how your body reacts to the treatment
  • Consider the costs and distance
  • Don’t be hasty in choosing your therapist

When To Consult A Doctor?

Acupuncture can alter your hormones, which can have a big impact on your pregnancy. If you notice anything off, be it just a slight pain, a discharge, or discomfort after your treatment, you need to consult your doctor immediately.

Acupuncture during pregnancy can be beneficial if you are suffering from acute pains and your doctor approves the treatment. When treated by a qualified therapist, it can help during both pregnancy and delivery.


1. When Should I Start Acupuncture During Pregnancy?

Some women use acupuncture to even help them conceive. You can start anytime during your pregnancy after your doctor approves of the same.

2. Does Acupuncture Affect The Baby During Pregnancy?

If done properly by a qualified therapist, it will not affect the baby. Ensure your therapist avoids the five trigger points and always be vocal about any discomfort or concerns.

3. What Areas Should Not be Massaged During Pregnancy?

Points above your ankle, between your thumb and forefinger, sacrum, lower back, and lower abdomen should not be massaged during pregnancy.

Ajanta Biswas,MA (English)

Studying English literature has been highly instrumental in creating a love for English and World Literature for this writer. Ajanta has been writing for more than two years. She specializes in creating short and crisp blogs that can create awareness among women about healthy pregnancy and among parents about better parenting.Read more.

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