When you are seeking acupuncture to support your pregnancy, you may wonder: ‘Is it safe for my baby?’
It’s noteworthy that common medications for pregnancy conditions like anxiety, insomnia, prenatal depression (see antidepressants), back pain, pelvic pain, headaches and others may lead to permanent harm to a developing baby.
Generally, acupuncture is very safe. A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that it is one of the safest treatments in medicine. Serious side effects are rare, and the most common minor adverse events are very mild.
And pregnancy acupuncture in particular has a stellar safety record. In a 2020 study, Korean researchers looked at the records of 20799 pregnant women. Their findings provide assurance. This natural therapy seemed to prevent stillbirths and reduce the number of preterm deliveries. All babies came to this world alive in the acupuncture group. Sadly, there were seven stillbirths in the group that didn’t have this time-proven therapy.
Another study from Korea have investigated the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy. They found that adverse events are very mild and transient. Furthermore, serious adverse events are very rare.
The most common adverse events
In 1000 pregnancy patients only 13 will experience a mild adverse event.
So what are those side effects? Mild pain and tiny bleeding at the needle sites are the most common adverse events. Both pain and bleeding is minor. Those side effects stopped shortly after the treatment and women when about their lives as normal.
Even more rarely you may see a tiny bruise. A bruise from a needle is normally not painful, unlike one caused by an injury.
Pregnancy acupuncture is safe when practiced by an expert
Another study in 2009, concluded that “Acupuncture treatment is safe if the practitioners are well educated, trained, and experienced.”
Lastly, because many women are worried that acupuncture in early pregnancy can cause the miscarriage, a study in Australia showed it was safe during the first trimester. In fact, women who had this natural therapy had effectively halved their risk of miscarriages (5% compared to the Australian average of 11%).
To sum it up, acupuncture is safe, and during pregnancy, it is even safer when done correctly, no matter in which trimester you receive the treatment.
You need to make sure you seek an acupuncturist with specialised training and a wealth of obstetric experience.
Here are some conclusions from various acupuncture safety studies:
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2010:
“Acupuncture is inherently safe in the hands of well trained practitioners.”
Yamashita, 2000, Japan:
“Although any 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.