Prenatal Acupuncture FAQ
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO... In addition to acupuncture being a safe and effective treatment for several women's health concerns including infertility, PCOS, endometriosis, breast and uterine fibroids, hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms, acupuncture can also be used to treat common ailments during pregnancy. Here's our prenatal acupuncture FAQ for anyone considering this Eastern medical modality.
Q. What is acupuncture?
A. Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world, originating in China more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture is the insertion of sterile, disposable, fine needles into specific points located near or on the skin’s surface. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, 8.2 million Americans have used acupuncture.
Q. How does acupuncture work?
A. Acupuncture is one of the key components of the Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) system. TCM views the body as a delicate balance of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state of qi. This concept is very similar to the concept of homeostasis in western medicine. Several theories have been proposed as to how acupuncture may work from a western perspective. Acupuncture may regulate the nervous system, aid the activity of endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites, or alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones.
Q. Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
A. Yes. Prenatal acupuncture is safe and has been shown in recent research to be effective for infertility and many common conditions during pregnancy. An Australian study conducted by Adelaide University in 2002 found that acupuncture during pregnancy had no adverse effects and was completely safe when done by a trained acupuncturist. Ask for a referral from your OB/GYN, midwife, or doula for a licensed acupuncturist with prenatal experience. Certain points are contraindicated during pregnancy but a licensed acupuncturist will know which points can be used safely.
Q. What are the most common reasons to visit an acupuncturist during pregnancy?
A. The top ten reasons patients see an acupuncturist include: morning sickness and vomiting, headaches and migraines, carpal tunnel, low back pain and sciatica, shoulder pain, immune system support, low energy, sciatica, heartburn, and anxiety, and joint pain. Acupuncture is also helpful in the management of symptoms related to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis.
Q. Can acupuncture be used to turn a breeched baby or induce labor?
A. Acupuncture or moxibustion (treatment of acupuncture points with the herb mugwort) for a breeched presentation is most effective between weeks 32-36 although it can be attempted later in pregnancy as well. Acupuncture can also be used for natural labor induction. Both conditions typically require a short series of treatments with a 7-14 day period.
Q. What conditions can acupuncture help with after I deliver?
A. Conditions that benefit from acupuncture after delivery include postpartum depression and anxiety, postpartum fatigue, lower back, abdominal, or perennial pain, insufficient lactation or excessive milk production, and mastitis.
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women's health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine.