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.


Depression during pregnancy and Acupuncture

Acupuncture – effective and safe treatment for pregnancy depression

I’ve written on the subject of depression and acupuncture before. Now a new and largest study to date published in Obstetrics & Gynaecology confirms acupuncture to be effective for antenatal or pregnancy depression. There are good reasons why, for the benefit of developing babies, acupuncture becomes a mainstream therapy for this condition.

1 in 7 pregnant women may suffer the baby blues

Pregnancy depression is more common than previously thought. Now an influential body of US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women in pregnancy are screened for the condition affecting health not only of the mother but also of the developing baby (January 26, 2016).

Why antidepressants is such a bad idea during pregnancy?

Since 2008 NZ Medsafe has been warning that SSRI antidepressant use in pregnancy may increase the risk of congenital abnormalities and that in later stages of pregnancy can lead to neonatal complications indicative of a withdrawal syndrome, and to persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn; and that doctors need to discuss this with their patients.
Some antidepressants were considered to be relatively safe not so long ago, but there is more and more evidence confirming that any kind of antidepressants may temporarily or permanently harm the developing foetus. The March 2010 issue of Pediatrics reports that antidepressants may permanently or reversibly affect fetal brain development.

Why you shouldn’t delay and address pregnancy depression as soon as it is diagnosed

Prenatal blues and stress can lead to adverse effects on the baby.

Pregnancy depression and stress can lead to adverse effects on the baby. Acupuncture is a safe effective treatment against the baby blues.

  • Many thousands of preterm births could be prevented if women diagnosed with the condition receive treatment during pregnancy.
  •  Antenatal depression and stress increase cortisol levels; this may lead to babies, who are born small and possibly smaller brains in proportion to their bodies.
  • Babies born to mothers with this debilitating condition have a blunted stress response, which may mean it is harder for them to react to stressful situations.
  • Antenatal stress can alter the structure of her offspring’s brain, particularly regions vital for emotional development [reference]
  • Antenatal depression has a long-term effect on the child. Children born to stressed mothers have shown abnormally high cortisol levels at age 10!

The bottom line? Depression during pregnancy may harm the developing foetus and so can antidepressants. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for antenatal and postnatal depression. If you are pregnant and suspect that you may be suffering from depression, remember to discuss acupuncture with your obstetrician, midwife or GP and give me a ring!

Acupuncture Diabetes: acupuncture improves memory impaired by diabetes

Electro-acupuncture restores learning and memory impairment induced by both diabetes mellitus and cerebral ischemia in rats, conclude researchers from Beijing.

Previous studies have shown electro-acupuncture can improve peripheral neuropathy and diabetic encephalopathy. If you are suffering from diabetes, acupuncture is a word to remember!

Recent studies have shown maternal diabetes to be linked to infant memory problems. Currently there are no studies to show that acupuncture will reduce the risk for the infant, but considering the possible benefit and minimal side effects, obstetricians and midwifes should consider discussing acupuncture with their diabetic patients.

The study was conducted by scientists from China Academy of Chinese Medical Science in Beijing.

Image courtesy of LoreleiRanveig