The Benefits of Acupuncture for Pregnancy
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…
It is a continuous joy to have former trying-to-conceive patients return for treatment for new and often challenging prenatal complaints. Acupuncture has benefits for both those trying to conceive and for women during all three trimesters. I've included a research summary here for those interested in the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy:
ACUPUNCTURE BEFORE AND AFTER EMBRYO TRANSFER RESULTS IN HIGHER PREGNANCY RATES
Overview: The research, done at Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centre in Colorado Springs, studied 114 women undergoing IVF. Half of the women received acupuncture and the control group did not.
Outcome: The acupuncture group showed improved outcome in the following ways: 1. The acupuncture group had a 51% pregnancy rate compared to 36% in the control group 2. The acupuncture group had an 8% miscarriage rate compared to a 20% in control group. 3. Acupuncture also was found to reduce the risk of tubal pregnancy and increase the live birth rate. The live birth rate for each IVF cycle was 23% higher than the cycles for the control group.
MANUAL ACUPUNCTURE REDUCES HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM (SEVERE VOMITING & NAUSEA)
Overview: Hyperemesis gravidarum, severe vomiting, develops in about 1-2% of all pregnancies. Acupuncture on the point PC6 above the wrist on the palmar side has been found to prevent some types of nausea and vomiting. The purpose of the present study was to see if acupuncture, in addition to standard treatment, could hasten the improvement of hyperemesis gravidarum. Thirty-three women with hyperemesis were evaluated in a randomized, single-blind, crossover comparison of two methods of acupuncture, active (deep) PC6 acupuncture or placebo (superficial) acupuncture. The women estimated their degree of nausea on a visual analogue scale (VAS).
Outcome: The daily number of emesis episodes were documented. Crossover analyses showed that there was a significantly faster reduction of nausea VAS and more women who stopped vomiting after active acupuncture than after placebo acupuncture. This study suggests that active PC6 acupuncture, in combination with standard treatment, could make women with hyperemesis gravidarum better faster than placebo acupuncture.
PELVIC PAIN RELIEF FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Overview: A new study shows acupuncture and strengthening exercises may help relieve pelvic girdle pain experienced by pregnant women. The study authors explain this pain inhibits the ability to stand, walk and sit, but there is no cure. Researchers in Sweden set out to investigate whether acupuncture or strengthening exercises could help manage the pain. They divided 386 women into three groups. One received standard treatment, another received standard treatment plus acupuncture, and the third underwent standard treatment plus stabilizing exercise that improved mobility and strength. These women recorded their pain levels every morning and evening and were examined at the end of the treatment period.
Outcome: Both the acupuncture group and the stabilizing-exercise group had less pain than the standard treatment group in the morning and evening. The acupuncture group showed the greatest reduction of pelvic girdle pain. The study authors conclude acupuncture or these specific exercises prove beneficial for pelvic girdle pain.
MOXIBUSTION TREATMENT OF BREECH PRESENTATION
Overview: Breech presentation was successfully corrected by stimulating acupuncture points with moxibustion or low-frequency electrical current. Only patients with breech pregnancies at the 28th week or later were entered into the study. With moxibustion treatment, the control group had a spontaneous correction rate of 165/224 (73.66%), and the treatment group had a correction rate of 123/133 (92.48%)
Outcome: It was confirmed that stimulation of acupuncture points used in Eastern medicine is very effective in correcting breech presentation. During the present studies, this therapeutic modality was also found to be effective in treating imminent premature birth.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR CERVICAL RIPENING AND INDUCTION OF LABOR AT TERM
Overview: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening, induce labor and thus reduce the need for postdates induction.
Outcome: Acupuncture at points LI4 and SP 6 supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the estimated date of confinement and the actual time of delivery.
INFLUENCE OF ACUPUNCTURE ON DURATION OF LABOR
Overview: The aim of this case control study was to evaluate the influence of acupuncture (AP) on the duration of labor. Fifty-seven women with AP treatment (group A) were included in our study after spontaneous vaginal full-term delivery. The control group included 63 women (group B). Median duration of the first stage of labor was 196 min in group A and 321 min in group B (Wilcoxon 2-sample test, p < 0.0001). Median duration of the second stage of labor was 57 min in group A and 57 min in group B (Wilcoxon 2-sample test, p = 0.82). Thirty women had a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), in group A 66.7% and in group B 33.3% (chi2 test, p = 0.02). Women without AP (group B) received significantly more often oxytocin during the first stage of labor compared with group A women (85 and 15%, respectively, chi2 test, p = 0.01) as well as during the second stage of labor (72 and 28%, respectively, chi2 test, p = 0.03).
Outcome: Our study suggests that acupuncture treatment is a recommendable form of childbirth preparation due to its positive effect on the duration of labor, namely by shortening the first stage of labor.
- Highlights in Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 77, No. 4, April 2002)
- Manual acupuncture reduces hyperemesis gravidarum: a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, crossover study. Carlsson CP, et.al., J Pain Symptom Manage. 2000 Oct;20(4):273-9.
- Pelvic Pain Relief for Pregnant Women." British Medical Journal (2005): n. pag. Web. 18 Jul 2011. <http://www.acubalance.ca/Pelvic_Pain_Relief_for_Pregnant_Women>.
- Moxibustion Treatment of Breech Presentation, Yoichi Kanakura, et.al, American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Wntr, 2001
- Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, Austria.
- Zeisler H, Tempfer C, Mayerhofer K, Barrada M, Husslein P., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, AKH, Austria.
Want to try acupuncture this year during your pregnancy? Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery and discovered the many benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Jessica is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She is also a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics, a specialty certification held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States.
Jessica currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit the acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for a number of integrative medical institutes. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. Please contact OMBE for more information about these services.
Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. Studio offerings included mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education and the Holistic Moms Network. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.