Acupuncture during pregnancy is very safe

Obstetric acupuncture safety is a concern of every pregnant woman, considering the treatment. It’s noteworthy that common medications for pregnancy conditions like anxiety, insomnia, prenatal depression (see antidepressants),  back pain, pelvic pain, headaches and others can lead to permanent harm to a developing baby. Fortunately, we have some good studies looking into the subject.

Researchers from Kyung Hee University have investigated the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy. They found that adverse events associated with post-partum acupuncture are very mild and transient. Serious adverse events are very rare. Importantly, after analysing data from 25 studies, the researchers concluded the time-proven therapy was unlikely the cause of these adverse events (AE).

The most common adverse events

About 13 patients in 1000 will experience an adverse event. Researchers identified mild pain and bleeding as the most common adverse events. And both pain and bleeding are minor and will stop shortly after the treatment with no further intervention. Very rarely the bleeding will result in a tiny bruise. A bruise caused by acupuncture needle is normally not painful, unlike one caused by an injury.

Pregnancy acupuncture is safe when practiced by an expert

Another study, completed in 2009, concluded that “Acupuncture treatment is safe if the practitioners are well educated, trained, and experienced.”


To conclude, the safety of acupuncture, and its effectiveness is especially valuable for addressing health concerns during pregnancy. However, you want to ensure you seek treatment from a qualified acupuncturist with a wealth of obstetric experience.

The referenced study was published in the current issue of Journal of Acupuncture in Medicine (British Medical Journal).

Here are some conclusions from various acupuncture safety studies:

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2010:
“Acupuncture can be considered inherently safe in the hands of well trained practitioners.”

Yamashita, 2000, Japan:
“Although some adverse reactions associated with acupuncture were common even in standard practice, they were transient and mild.”

White, 2001, UK:
“All AEs were mild and no serious AE occurred.”

Jimin Park, 2013, Korea:
Acupuncture during pregnancy appears to be associated with a few AEs when correctly applied.

You may be interested to learn about fertility and IVF acupuncture.