Evidence for Acupuncture During
Pregnancy & Post-Partum
Key Results: This observational study looked at how weekly prebirth acupuncture from week 36 until the due date as a routine part of prenatal care may effect the childbirth experiences of the 169 mothers in the study, This research suggests that pre-birth acupuncture increases the likelihood of mothers going into labor spontaneously around their due dates. The study found that among women receiving prebirth acupuncture there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of medical inductions (for women having their first baby this was a 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate compared to women in the local population. This research also showed that the duration of labor was shorter among women receiving routine prebirth acupuncture.
Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical Acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20. (no www link available for this article)
Prevention of Threatened Miscarriage
An estimated 20- 25% of women experience vaginal bleeding during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Current standard practice involves a "wait and see" approach to threatened miscarriage, with no medical treatment options available. Currently approximately 50% (or more) of early miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal problems, but for the other 50% the cause of miscarriage is not understood. Among women who experience bleeding in early pregnancy--who would not inevitably miscarry otherwise due to chromosome problems--there is a potential for a beneficial therapeutic intervention such as acupuncture to help prevent the escalation into a miscarriage. Key results: This exciting research from New Zealand explores the combination of acupuncture with supportive care to improve outcomes during threatened miscarriages. The authors discuss several important putcomes of acupuncture plus supportive care that can benefit the uterine environment and may help resolve a threatened miscarriage, including improved immune response, beneficial changes in stress hormones, and less tangible factors such a women's ability to cope with stress,
Betts, D., et al. Acupuncture as a therapeutic treatment option for threatened miscarriage BMC Complement Altern Med, 2012 Mar 22;12:20 here
Key Results: Together these two studies show first that acupuncture is very safe in early pregnancy, and that acupuncture is statistically demonstrated to be an effective treatment for nausea during early pregnancy (before 14 weeks).
Smith C., Crowther C., Beilby J. Acupuncture to treat neasea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial. Birth.2002Mar:29 (1):1-9 here
Smith C., Crowther C., Beilby J. Pregnancy outcome following women's participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Complement Ther Med. 2002 Jun; 10(2):78-83 here
Back Pain and Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy
Key results: Analysis of 26 different studies shows that during pregnancy acupuncture significantly reduces evening pelvic or back pain, more than usual care and better than exercise. Acupuncture is more effective than physical therapy and spinal manipulation at relieving evening lumbo-pelvic pain and disability and improving functioning.
Pennick, V., Liddle, SD. Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 1;8:CD001139. here
Depression During Pregnancy:
Up to 14% of pregnant women may have depressive disorders. Pregnant women are often reluctant to take medication to treat depression, and often seek alternatives to standard care. Key results: A recent randomized control trial from Stanford University showed that acupuncture specific to depression significantly reduced symptom severity compared to two control groups.
Manber R, Schnyer R, Lyell D, Chambers A, Caughey A, Druzin M, et al. Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 2010;115:511–20. here
Moxibustion for Breech Presentation
Key results: Powerful evidence from this randomized control trial published in a leading medical journal shows that moxibustion for 1 or 2 weeks increased cephalic (head down) presentation at 35 weeks and at delivery.
Cardini F., Weixin, H. Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation. JAMA 1998; 280:1580-1584. here
Acupuncture for Cervical Ripening
Key Results: A small study from Austria showed that acupuncture at points LI4 and SP 6 supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the expected date of delivery and the actual time of delivery.
Rabl M. et al. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trial. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6. here