Why You Should Add an Acupuncturist to Your Birth Team

By Lakeview Physio
Dr. Rae LaBerge
Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Registered Acupuncturist, Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™️
June 20, 2024

Acupuncture can help the body prepare for labour and delivery by shortening the labour process and reducing the need for medical interventions.

Acupuncture is a safe and gentle way to successfully treat many common conditions that surface during pregnancy such as morning sickness, fatigue, headaches, aches, and pains. Acupuncture can help the body prepare for labour and delivery by shortening the labour process and reducing the need for medical interventions.

Using sterile needles to stimulate specific points on the body acupuncture opens communication pathways, harnessing the body’s natural healing potential to treat and support mother and baby throughout pregnancy. Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the body’s own immune response, the release of endogenous endorphins, activates key brain regulatory centres, improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and regulates hormones.

When should I get acupuncture during pregnancy?

  • First Trimester (weeks 1-12): Acupuncture can provide drug-free relief for early symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, and headaches. 
Recommended treatment once per month, more frequent if morning sickness or headaches are present. 

  • Second Trimester (weeks 13-27): In the second trimester acupuncture can address many of the physical discomforts associated with a developing pregnancy such as pelvic and back pain, heart burn, constipation, high blood pressure and edema. Recommended treatment twice per month or more often for pain management and other conditions.
  • Third Trimester (weeks 28-40+): At 37 weeks, your baby is considered full term. At this time acupuncture plays a key role in preparing the body for labour by ripening the cervix, relaxing the pelvis, and calming the mind.  Research supports that patients who get acupuncture throughout their pregnancy, especially the third trimester, report faster and less complicated deliveries. Acupuncture has also been known to reduce the incidence of requiring a medical induction by 15%. Labour prep treatments are recommended once to twice weekly starting at 37 weeks.
  • Breech Position:  The combination of acupuncture with moxibustion (herbs heated over specific acupuncture points) is a studied and effective technique to encourage Baby to move into cephalic position (head down) when baby is in breech position. Most babies turn head-down between 28-33 weeks, but if yours is a little stubborn then moxibustion is a great non-invasive option. Treatments can start as early as 33 weeks. During your appointment you will be taught how to perform this technique as a home treatment.
  • Labour Induction: (40+ weeks) Labour induction treatments are usually only considered when the Baby is past due date and/or primary care practitioners have deemed it appropriate. Acupuncture is used as a natural method to induce labour, when necessary, by stimulating points that promote the release of oxytocin and encourage the onset of contractions. These treatments typically include extra stimulation and electro-acupuncture to enhance outcomes.
  • Postpartum: After childbirth, many mothers can experience a range of challenges such as fatigue, breastfeeding difficulties, and mood fluctuations. Acupuncture can address these issues by promoting relaxation, reducing inflammation, and balancing hormone levels. Acupuncture can support lactation by stimulating milk production and relieving blocked ducts. Moreover, acupuncture's calming effects can help alleviate postpartum anxiety and depression, providing much-needed emotional support during this transitional period

Does acupuncture hurt?

Typically, no. Acupuncture is fairly pain-less. It is normal to feel some warmth or heaviness around the points, but these sensations dissipate quickly following the needle insertion. Many people find acupuncture relaxing and often fall asleep during treatment.

Does acupuncture cause pre-term labour?

No. Specific points that are known to promote labour are avoided entirely until your due date. The points used in pre-birth/labour-prep acupuncture will not bring on early labour.

Dr. Rae LaBerge is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine with a practice focus in perinatal care, infertility, and reproductive health. Taking a holistic approach, Dr. Rae combines acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, lifestyle and nutritional counselling to support you on your fertility journey, through pregnancy and into postpartum.


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