Can Acupuncture Help Ease The Aches And Pains Of Pregnancy?

It might sound counterintuitive, but many people — for thousands of years — have been reaping the pain relieving benefits of the ancient Chinese practice known as acupuncture (via Britannica). Traditionally, someone who practices acupuncture uses points that resemble the 14 meridians, which correlate to the body's internal organs and vessels, says the Won Institute. The process for acupuncture generally involves the insertion of several skinny needles (perhaps as little as 5 or as many as 20) at different areas in the body (per Mayo Clinic). The needles are placed at certain depths, and may be slightly tweaked to cause stimulation. After about 15 minutes, the needles are removed from the body. In doing this, acupuncture is believed to help energy flow in the body. 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that acupuncture is popular all over the world. Further, it is generally considered to be safe when practiced correctly. However, there could be serious complications if the practitioner reuses needles or pushes needles too deep into the body. Even so, acupuncture is generally safe and remains a popular treatment for pain. 

Since some expectant parents may be uncomfortable taking over-the-counter pain relievers, you might wonder if acupuncture can help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy. Here's everything you need to know.

Can you poke the pregnancy pain away?

Pregnancy is the ultimate miracle of life — but it is not without its trials and tribulations. According to Medline Plus, pregnancy can bring about many aches and pains that range all over the body. During pregnancy, headaches are commonplace. Then there are pains that may be related to the extra weight (i.e., the baby) a person carries during pregnancy. This baby weight can lead to changes in posture, which may cause pain in the legs and back. Finally, pelvic pain is another common experience (via Merck Manual).

A 2022 review of studies published in the British Medical Journal noted that up to 90% of pregnant people experience pain in the lower back or pelvic area. Acupuncture was found to not only reduce pain but improve quality of life. The researchers also found that there were not any unfavorable effects from acupuncture on the infants of those birthing parents. 

Beyond lower back and pelvic pain, Healthline notes that acupuncture may help pregnant women relieve constipation, depression, heartburn, poor sleep, nausea, stress, and vomiting. However, acupuncture may not be for all pregnant women, especially those who have had prior miscarriages or are currently at risk for premature delivery.