Acupuncture involves the placement of thin sterilized needles to stimulate various acupoints throughout the body. The stimulation of these areas is believed to correct imbalances and blockages in the body by promoting the healthy flow of energy (known as qi – pronounced CHEE).
The thought of having half a dozen or more tiny needles sticking into your skin when you’re pregnant might sound frightening. However, it’s actually a safe, painless, straightforward procedure that can treat a number of adverse symptoms associated with pregnancy.
#1) Reduces Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is one of the most common symptoms reported by pregnant women. As the womb grows to accommodate the mother’s unborn baby, ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. This stretching, combined with the increased weight and hormone changes, can result in mild-to-severe pelvic pain.
Acupuncture offers a safe and effective way to treat pelvic pain without relying on drugs that may otherwise harm the unborn baby. This is done by encouraging the body to activate its own “self-healing” mechanism.
#2) Dates Back Thousands of Years
While no one knows exactly when acupuncture was first used, or who created it, historians believe it originated during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BCE). Hieroglyphs and ancient drawings depicting acupuncture reinforce this belief.
#3) Reduces Stress Levels
Acupuncture is also known to lower stress levels by regulating the production, and subsequent release, of hormones, which is something that all pregnant women can benefit from. A study published in the the Journal of Endocrinology found hormones related to stress were lowered in laboratory mice when electric acupuncture was administered. The needles are believed to trigger the body’s healing response, which in turn regulates hormone production.
#4) Reduces Labor Duration
Pregnant women will often begin acupuncture sessions in the weeks leading up to their due date, essentially “prepping” their bodies for the experience. Several studies have found acupuncture to improve cervical maturation, and reduce labor times by as much as 20%.
#5) It’s Painless
This might be hard for some people to believe, but acupuncture – when performed correctly – is completely painless. In fact, many people close their eyes to rest and relax while having the procedure performed. The small, thin needles are barely felt as they enter the skin. This is in stark contrast to other forms of treatment for pregnancy-related symptoms, which are typically accompanied with their own adverse side effects.
#6) Reduces Foot Pain
Yet another benefit of acupuncture for expecting moms is reduction of foot pain. The added weight attributed to pregnancy often results in foot pain and swelling during those nine months. Thankfully, these symptoms can be alleviated through a series of acupuncture sessions.
#7) Improves Blood Circulation
Of course, acupuncture is also known to improve blood circulation. Blood pressure irregularities (including hypertension), spider veins, edema, and general exhaustion are all common blood flow-related symptoms experienced by women during pregnancy. Undergoing a series of acupuncture sessions, though, may prevent these symptoms from occurring.