Acupuncture & Pregnancy


 Acupuncture is safe and effective for treating women throughout their whole pregnancy.


“Acupuncture with Shannon has been such an important part of my journey toward pregnancy. Shannon brings not only a wealth of knowledge about fertility treatment but also a calm and supportive understanding of the whole process. There were times when I felt hopeless and was ready to give up. Shannon helped me to manage the emotional as well as the physical difficulties. Now I am five months pregnant and will continue to receive acupuncture throughout my pregnancy.”


Early Pregnancy

Prevention Of Miscarriage | Sustainability Of Pregnancy

Acupuncture can be a very effective for recurrent miscarriage, threatened miscarriage, and help to prevent ectopic pregnancy.  From a pre-pregnant state, acupuncture works to increase circulation to the uterus and fostering healthy follicle and uterine lining development.  This can assist in viable pregnancies and successful implantation.  In conjunction, acupuncture can effectively work to prevent miscarriage through providing adequate circulation to the fetus, helping supply the fetus with essential nutrients needed for growth and development. Acupuncture also works to decrease the stress and anxiety associated with the first trimester.

Nausea | Vomiting

Nausea & vomiting are often times one of the first signs of pregnancy and can vary in frequency, intensity and duration.  Some of the potential theories as to why nausea occurs in pregnancy are: elevated HCG and estrogen, the brains stems response to hormones, fatigue, stress, and emotional factors.  Chinese Medicine has its own unique way of looking at the body and treating the symptoms associated with early pregnancy.   Acupuncture has been shown to through research (see below) to decrease nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.  Acupuncture works to decrease stress and works to harmonize the function of the digestive organs.

Second & Third Trimester

“Working with Shannon during my struggles to get pregnant was a bright spot during a very difficult time.  She was always positive and supportive.  The treatments were calming and really helped with my overall mood.  I also saw Shannon during the end of my pregnancy and postpartum.  It was an amazing experience.”


Constipation | Heart Burn

Up to 80% of women have issues with heartburn, indigestion, bloating, constipation, and stomach discomfort during pregnancy.  These issues can tend to get worse over time throughout the pregnancy.  Research supports acupuncture’s gentle and effective coarse of treatment for GI issues.  Acupuncture works to harmonize the stomach through the use of specific therapeutic acupuncture points.  It helps to stimulate the stomach and intestines appropriate function, decreases acid reflux, helps with indigestion, and lessons heartburn.

Pain | Muscoloskeletal Conditions

It is common for women to experience pain and discomfort during their pregnancy.  In early pregnancy, changes in hormones can cause ligament pain.  As pregnancy progresses and space becomes limited in the body, the impact of the growing baby can generate pain in the pelvis, lower & upper back, ribs, hips, shoulders and wrists.  Conditions such as pubic symphysis, carpal tunnel, round ligament pain, and sciatica are commonly treated through the use of acupuncture.  Women do not have to suffer through pregnancy!  Acupuncture is a gentle and effective in helping women maintain overall health during pregnancy to help facilitate a joyful and active experience during pregnancy. 


Stress | Anxiety | Insomnia | Fatigue

Pregnancy provides profound major life changes, drastic changes in the body, a unique hormonal state, and changes in our emotional state .  Along with this can come anxiety, depression, worry, fear, fatigue, and insomnia.  Adjusting to pregnancy, becoming a parent, or adding on to your family poses  increased demands on the body and potential stress levels.  All of these factors can contribute a women’s mental state during pregnancy.

Acupuncture works to restore the nervous system and calm repetitious mental loops or thought patterns.  Through treating the whole person (mind, body, spirit) acupuncture works to treat each person in an individualized and deep way through getting to the root of the problem.  Acupuncture is great at restoring the sleep cycles, so that the response to stress is supported by being well rested.


Women gain up to 50% more fluid through out their pregnancies to help support their baby and prepare the body for labor through softening tissues in the body.  Subcutaneous edema is common during pregnancy and creates puffy and swollen ankles, hands, and feet.  Generally this type of edema is initiated by standing for long periods of time and progresses throughout the day.

When the edema persists after resting or is present upon awakening in the morning, further medical testing may be needed.  This can be a sign of preeclampsia, a condition where protein is found in the urine and women have elevated blood pressure.  This can be a serious condition that needs close monitoring.

Acupuncture can be very effective at treating the subcutaneous edema.  It helps the body to better metabolize the fluid in the body, decreasing swelling and discomfort associated with swelling. 

Pregnancy Induced Hypertension | Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs up to 5% of pregnant women.  Women with preeclampsia tend to have:

  • protein in their urine
  • high blood pressure
  • potential elevated liver enzymes
  • edema that persists
  • headache and visual disturbances
  • decreased urination
  • in severe cases seizuresPregnant young woman holding her belly

Women tend to notice the onset in the second and third trimester.  The causative factors for preeclampsia are not well understood.   But some of the factors that can play a role are:

  • high blood pressure prior to pregnancy
  • first pregnancy
  • renal disease, diabetes and other blood vessel problems
  • stress and high cortisol, leading to hypertension
  • multiple births
  • smoking during pregnancy
  • obestity
  • autoimmune response

The earlier it occurs the more dangerous and potentially life threatening it can be.  Modern medical care and early detection helps to prevent life threatening situations from arising.   Typically women are monitored regularly and are advised to rest.  Some women may be required to be hospitalized on bed rest.

Treatment for preeclampsia varies depending on the patients individual constitution.  Acupuncture can help to relax the body and nervous system.  This helps to support the over strained vascular system and restore and re balance the heart.  There are many acupuncture points that are empirical for reducing blood pressure (in the liver and gallbladder meridian specifically).  Eastern treatment can be an incredible support with western monitoring. 

Intrauterine Growth Restriction

This is a condition where the baby is not growing within a normal range for its gestational age.  There are many reasons why this can occur, some of the reasons are:

  • the mother may have a pre-existing condition
  • disorders in pregnancy like anemia, severe nausea and vomiting, preeclampsia
  • placenta previa
  • pregnancy of multiples
  • mothers who smoke, drink, or use drugs during pregnancy
  • physical or emotional stress
  • poor prenatal nutrition and low maternal weight
  • gestational diabetes

IGR can cause premature births and or babies with IGR are more likely to develop problems at birth or down the road as they may have learning disabilities.

Acupuncture has been clinically shown to increase blood flow to the uterus.  It can help to increase circulation in the mother and also to the baby.  Acupuncture can also work with anxiety and stress associated with IGR.  Through working on stress reduction, we work on increasing circulation to the developing fetus. 

End Of Pregnancy Care With Acupuncture | Breech Presentation | Labor Preparation




“I received a few labor induction acupuncture treatments at the end of my pregnancy. My doctor decided to induce me a week early due to health complications and I was not thrilled with the decision.  I wanted labor to start naturally and turned to acupuncture. Shannon worked her schedule to fit me in with short notice, was personable and caring, and the treatments worked! My water broke naturally just a few hours before I was supposed to go in and get induced. I have a happy and healthy baby boy.”



Nausea & vomiting 

She cites a recent study conducted by the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in which 33 women with hyperemesis (a severe form of morning sickness) were treated with acupuncture. In this study, after two active acupuncture treatments, only 7 of 17 women were still vomiting, compared with 12 of 16 women who received placebo acupuncture. According the study authors, the effects of active acupuncture could be seen “often within minutes of stimulation.”

In a 2004 study conducted by University Hospital in Sweden, 36 women were divided into four groups.1 There were two groups, each studying a different form of acupuncture (two methods of acupuncture were used: bilateral manual AP of the Pc 6 (Neiguan) acupoint (group 1, n = 10) and bilateral APr of the Pc 6 acupoint) and a control group for each of these. The results revealed that 90% of the women involved in the acupuncture groups had a positive antiemetic (vomit prevention) outcome. The doctors concluded that both acupuncture and acupressure (the act of applying physical pressure to acupuncture points with hands, elbows, or other devices) were extremely effective in the relief of morning sickness and overall nausea.

A 2002 trial involving 593 women (all of whom were less than 14 weeks pregnant and had symptoms of nausea or vomiting) found that those who underwent weekly acupuncture sessions for four weeks reported less nausea throughout the study. Members of the acupuncture group also reported less dry retching from the second week on (compared with women who did not receive acupuncture).


For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 42 pregnant women with indigestion to dietary counseling plus antacids or to dietary counseling and antacids plus acupuncture once or twice a week. The researchers assessed the women’s symptoms at the beginning of the study and every two weeks after that for eight weeks.  Heartburn, the main symptom, was reduced by half in 75 percent of the women treated with acupuncture. Women receiving acupuncture also ate and slept better, he said.


An adjunct technique to acupuncture called moxibustion has been used for many centuries   to turn breech babies. A herb called moxa is ‘compacted’ into a cigar shaped stick, one end of which is lit and it’s slowly smoldered directly above an acupuncture point on the little toe.  Research is currently underway, but previous scientific studies have found promising results for the turning of breech babies; somewhere in the region of 80% success rate.

Depression And Anxiety During Pregnancy

70% of women responded positively to treatment with acupuncture for depression during pregnancy. (2004, Stanford University)

Acupuncture & Labor Research

In the third trial, 106 women received acupuncture and 102 women received placebo acupuncture, in which superficial needles were applied to non-acupuncture points. None of the women knew whether they received acupuncture or the sham treatment. The acupuncture group reported less pain up to two hours after acupuncture and two hours after giving birth than those who received the sham treatment. The women who received acupuncture requested less pain medication than their counterparts.

This protocol showed that it was possible to improve cervical maturation if acupuncture sessions were carried out at the beginning of the 9th month. The Bishop scores in the three groups after 10 days interval showed that there was a significant progression of 2.61 points in the group treated with acupuncture as against only 0.89 and 1.08 in the placebo and control groups.


Knight B, Mudge C, Openshaw S, White A, Hart A. “Effect of acupuncture on nausea of pregnancy: a randomized, controlled trial.” Obstet Gynecol. 2001 97(2):184-8.

by Tremeau ML; Fontanie-Ravier P; Teurnier F; Demouzon J. Journal de Gynecologie, Obstetrique et Biologie de la Reproduction, 1992, 21(4):375-80.

The report is published in the June issue of Acupuncture in Medicine.

Hardcastle, Jonathon. “Acupuncture During Pregnancy.” Mimi Maternity “Acupuncture Today


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