Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
Acupuncture treatments can be helpful throughout a pregnancy. Acupuncture can calm morning sickness, treat insomnia, edema, sciatica and many of the other discomforts of pregnancy. It can also strengthen the constitution of the mother-to-be which makes for a smoother pregnancy and healthier baby.
Acupuncture is safe to use while you are pregnant. There are some points that should not be needled during pregnancy or should be used with extreme caution. Points on the sacrum, lower abdomen and points that could elicit a contraction should be avoided.
There are many Chinese herbs that are contraindicated during pregnancy. Err on the side of caution with all herbs and medications while you are expecting.
Common Acupuncture Points Used During Pregnancy:
Zhubin (K 9) – “beautiful baby point”
Location: Above the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone), right below the calf muscle.
Function: Calms the mind, builds or tonifies blood.
Indication: Good for hypertension, fear, anxiety, nightmares, and mental disorders.
Zusanli (St 36)
Location: Four fingers below the knee cap, on the outer edge of the tibia.
Function: Strengthens overall constitution, builds blood and Qi, resolves edema, and harmonizes meridians that control digestive functions.
Indication: Great point for diarrhea, constipation, gastric pain and indigestion. Also helps with insomnia, edema (water retention), and increases energy level.
Neiguan (P 6) – “morning sickness and motion sickness point”
Location: Two fingers above the inner wrist.
Function: Calms the mind, harmonizes the stomach.
Indication: This is THE point for nausea and vomiting. It is also one of the most relaxing acupuncture points and is used for both insomnia and anxiety.
Acupuncture Points to Avoid During Pregnancy:
- Points on the sacrum - can cause contractions
- Point on the lower abdomen – there is a risk of needling too deep
- Point on the low back – avoid deep needling.
- Sanyinjiao (SP 6) – located three fingers above the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone). Can cause contractions.
- Hegu (LI 4) – located on top of hand in the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger. Can cause contractions.
Moxibustion is often used during pregnancy. The moxa herb is used to gently warm certain points and has been found to have properties that can strengthen the body, relax the mind and stimulate Qi. This form of Oriental Medicine can be used to supplement an acupuncture treatment or instead of needles for those that are needle sensitive. The only down side of moxibustion is its strong smell, which some pregnant women cannot cope with.