Alternative methods of healthcare are being explored more than ever before as we enter into increasingly progressive realms of modern medicine. Beyond pain management, the use of acupuncture continues to grow in popularity. Acupuncture is being used as a fertility aid, providing relief during pregnancy and in inducing labor—not only safe, it is also beneficial to mom and baby.
Acupuncture stimulates specific points in the body by inserting thin needles through the skin. Practitioners implement acupuncture in a number of different ways. I practice a combination of traditional points, which can be traced back thousands of years in Chinese medicine, coupled with understanding the physiological functions and anatomical structure being treated. In no way is acupuncture a substitute for Western prenatal medical care, yet, it is very safe and offers complementary care with many benefits.
Acupuncture can be extremely effective at relieving stress, morning sickness, hip and lower back pain and mild to moderate depression during pregnancy. Not only can acupuncture be beneficial during pregnancy, but it can also help with labor induction and in reducing the length and discomfort of labor.
A 2002 study at the Women's & Children's Hospital at Adelaide University in Australia, on the safety of acupuncture in early pregnancy, found there is no increased risk of congenital anomalies, miscarriage, stillbirth, placental abruption, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia or premature birth. Neither is there evidence to suggest increased risk following the treatment of acupuncture within normal measures of neonatal health, such as maturity or birth weight. The study was conducted during the first trimester of pregnancy, when fetal development is most vulnerable. These results have been replicated at other research institutions worldwide.
In addition to acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation may also help with back, neck or joint pain as hormonal changes lead to a laxity of ligamentous support and can therefore contribute to higher incidence of muscle and joint dysfunction. Similar to acupuncture, it can also be helpful in controlling symptoms of nausea, reducing length of labor, and maintaining a healthier pregnancy.