Why Acupuncture is a Safe and Clinically Useful Treatment to include during Pregnancy
Is Acupuncture Safe during Pregnancy?
During pregnancy there are a lot of things that change, including treatments, diet, medications, and activities that may no longer be safe during pregnancy. Yet, to help manage a lot of uncomfortable symptoms during pregnancy we need to evaluate which therapies are safe to use. Acupuncture has become quite a popular treatment option during pregnancy. In one study midwives interviewed revealed that approximately 20% of them recommended acupuncture to help manage certain symptoms during pregnancy.
A new systematic review looking at 25 clinical studies evaluated for safety of acupuncture during pregnancy. They found that, due to increasing evidence of acupuncture being clinically useful in the treatment and management of various conditions, it is important to also assess for the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy as well. Overall, they split adverse reactions they were monitoring for in to three categories : mild, moderate and severe. Of all the studies included, the authors for the respective study determined that none of the severe symptoms patient had were related or due to acupuncture. Approximately 1.3% of patients are expected to have an adverse effect from acupuncture and are mild and transient. The most common symptoms include: mild pain at the needle insertion site, bleeding or bruising at the needle insertion site, and fatigue. They concluded from their review of the 25 clinical trials that the risk of adverse effects from acupuncture is ´very low´ and are mild and transient.
What are the Benefits of Acupuncture during Pregnancy?
Acupuncture was used to help with the treatment of a variety of concerns during pregnancy. It was often utilized to reduce low back pain, change fetal position (for patients that came in with breech position), reduce nausea and vomiting, reduce headaches (tension type headaches), manage symptoms of depression, dyspepsia, insomnia, emotional unease, sciatica, and symphysis pubis dysfunction.
Should Patients be getting Acupuncture Treatments when Pregnant?
This will depend on each individual patient, depending on their symptoms and severity. Based on limited research that acupuncture may be beneficial for threatened miscarriages and studies finding benefit for the treatment of various symptoms and disorders during pregnancy, acupuncture can be a strong contender for therapeutic interventions, especially considering it has a very high safety profile and adverse effects from the largest review evaluating for the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy only found mild and transient side effects that occurred in only about 1.3% of patients receiving acupuncture during their pregnancy.
Park, J., Sohn, Y., White, A. R., & Lee, H. (2014). The Safety of Acupuncture during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Acupuncture in Medicine, 32(3), 257–266.