In recent years there has been increased interest in the use of acupuncture in obstetrics, since it offers a drug-free alternative to conventional treatments for common pregnancy-related complaints.
A study to review the effectiveness of needle acupuncture in treating the common and disabling problem of pelvic and back pain in pregnancy was reported in the American journal of obstetrics and gynecology198.3 (Mar 2008): 254-9, although not a large study supported its use.
Other studies on back pain in pregnancy include –
Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy
Kvorning, Nina; Holmberg, Catharina; Grennert, Lars; Aberg, AndersView Profile; Akeson, Jonas; et al. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica83.3 (Mar 2004): 246-50.
Conclusion – Acupuncture relieves low-back and pelvic pain without serious adverse effects in late pregnancy.
Acupuncture for low back pain in pregnancy – a prospective, quasi- randomised, controlled study
Bosco Guerreiro da Silva J; Uchiyama, Nakamura M; Cordeiro JA; Kulay, Acupunct Med22.2 (Jun 2004): 60-7.
Conclusion – results indicate that acupuncture seems to alleviate low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy, as well as to increase the capacity for some physical activities and to diminish the need for drugs, which is a great advantage during this period.
Other studies in pregnancy have shown acupuncture to be effective for stress, morning sickness, hip and low back pain, breech position, mild to moderate depression, labour induction, and shortening the length of labour. Acupuncture therapy may offer some advantage over conventional treatment in the management of hyperemesis gravidarum and post caesarean section pain.
Acupuncture for insomnia in pregnancy -da Silva JB; Nakamura, MU; Cordeiro JA; Kulay, L J. Acupunct Med23.2 (Sep 2005): 47-51.
The results of this study suggest that acupuncture alleviates insomnia during pregnancy.
A 2002 study conducted at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital at Adelaide University in Australia on the safety of acupuncture for nausea in early pregnancy verified that there is no increased risk of congenital anomalies, miscarriage, stillbirth, placental abruption, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, premature birth, or normal measures of neonatal health (such as maturity or birth weight) when women receive acupuncture during pregnancy. The study was conducted during the first trimester of pregnancy, when foetal development is most vulnerable.
A systematic review of the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy reported in 2014 reviewed 105 studies. The objective of this review was to identify adverse events associated with acupuncture treatment during pregnancy. Total incidence of adverse events was 1.9%, the most common being needle pain and all were classified as mild to moderate. The conclusion was that acupuncture during pregnancy appears to be associated with few adverse events. The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Park, Jimin; Sohn, Youngjoo; White, Adrian R ; Lee, Hyangsook ; NLM. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society 32.3 (Jun 2014): 257-66.
Acupuncture is safe when it is conducted by a qualified practitioner.
There is no statutory regulation of acupuncture in England though GPs, physiotherapists and nurses, are subject to statutory regulation and many are now trained in acupuncture.
Mild, short-lasting side effects do occur in some cases. These include:
• pain where the needles puncture the skin
• bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin
Because of the slight risk of bleeding, people with bleeding disorders such as haemophilia, or people taking medication to prevent blood clotting (anticoagulants), may not be able to have acupuncture.
Acupuncture is also not usually advised if you have a metal allergy or an infection in the area where needles may be inserted.
Acupuncture is not a substitute for prenatal medical care. It does however offer complementary care that may have many benefits with very few side effects.