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Healthy Pregnancies and Acupuncture

December 27, 2008 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

A healthy pregnancy is a big enough challenge for most women. And the reality is that many pregnancies are plagued by a certain degree of pain and discomfort. This unfortunate fact is complicated by a hesitance on the part of doctors and patients to use medications to manage these common symptoms – and rightly so. Many medications are simply not appropriate for growing fetuses. Fortunately, there are some time honored techniques that may offer safer alternatives to medications during pregnancy.

Promise for Pelvic Pain

One of the most prevalent problems during pregnancy is pelvic pain. It is characterized by a pain in the front of the pelvis and in the region of the buttocks. It can also radiate down the back of the leg and vary from a sharp stabbing effect to a feeling of dull pain. Pelvic pain, sometimes known as PGP, affects approximately 20% of pregnant women. And, it is one of the most frequent causes of sick leave in the workplace.

Safe & Natural PregnancyA recent study in Sweden was performed to determine whether acupuncture might be a viable way to manage PGP during pregnancy. In order to do so, Dr. Helen Elden from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, recruited 115 pregnant women who suffered from these common pelvic symptoms.

The group was split into two. One half was administered a specific acupuncture treatment. The other half was subjected to a “sham acupuncture” treatment plan. The sham acupuncture only provided the illusion of needles penetrating the skin. To quote Dr. Elden, “Both the genuine and the sham needles are delivered through a handle, but the sham needle does not penetrate the skin; instead, it collapses into the handle and creates the illusion of insertion”.

It’s important to note that all the pregnant ladies were also given general advice as to how to cope with such pain and an exercise routine that might help them to manage the discomfort.

The results of the study were as follows: Both groups reported significant pain relief. In other words, both the acupuncture and the “sham acupuncture” helped relieve the pelvic symptoms.

But that’s not the end of the story. The researchers also found that the real acupuncture group managed to better accomplish their daily activities and their work responsibilities – as compared to the sham acupuncture group.

This study was published in The International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The editor of that journal, Dr. Philip Steer, offered this analysis of the study: “For some women the hope of pain relief is enough reason for them to undergo alternative treatments. The results of this study are encouraging as it shows that acupuncture could improve the lives of women with PGP. However, women should consult their doctors and midwives and not abandon traditional medicine.”

This is a good example of “integrative medicine”. The melding of the best of alternative and conventional medicine. And that is a form of compromise with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Be well!


Referenced Material

Link – Study Abstract: Acupuncture and Pelvic Pain

Link – Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Press Release

Link – Article: Acupuncture and Pregnancy

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Women's Health

2 Comments & Updates to “Healthy Pregnancies and Acupuncture”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Acupressure supports healthier breast milk production …


    Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015 Jan-Feb;20(1):7-11.

    Effect of acupressure on milk volume of breastfeeding mothers referring to selected health care centers in Tehran.

    BACKGROUND: Breast milk is the main food source for infants’ growth and development. Insufficient milk is one of the obstacles to the adequate use of this substance. One of the treatments to help this issue is acupressure. Therefore, the present study was designed to determine the effect of acupressure on maternal milk volume.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study is a randomized clinical trial in which 60 breastfeeding mothers complaining of hypogalactia and meeting the inclusion criteria were studied. In addition to providing routine education, bilateral acupressure was performed for 12 consequentia l days on the acupoints of SI1, LI4, and GB21 in the intervention group, as three sessions per week with each session conducted 2-5 times. The control group received only routine education. In both groups, breast milk volume before intervention and 2 and 4 weeks after intervention was evaluated by an electric pump. Data were analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistical analysis through SPSS.

    RESULTS: The t-test showed no significant difference in the mean volume of milk in the two groups (P = 0.543). Mean volumes of milk before and 2 and 4 weeks after the intervention were 10.5 (8.3), 33 (13.44), and 36.2 (12.8), respectively, in the acupressure group and 9.5 (7.7), 17.7 (9.4), 18 (9.5), respectively, in the control group. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) test showed a significant difference in the mean volume of milk at 2 and 4 weeks after the intervention (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Both acupressure and general education methods were effective on the milk volume of breastfeeding mothers. Acupressure method was more effective than the other method. Therefore, application of acupressure as a method of alternative medicine to increase breastfeeding is suggested. Be well! JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update 05/06/15:


    Horm Metab Res. 2015 May 4.

    Effects of High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation on Metabolic Status and Pregnancy Outcomes in Pregnant Women at Risk for Pre-Eclampsia.

    This study was designed to assess the beneficial effects of high-dose (cholecalciferol) vitamin D supplementation on metabolic profiles and pregnancy outcomes among pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia. This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial was performed among 60 pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia according to abnormal uterine artery Doppler waveform. Subjects were randomly divided into 2 groups to receive 50 000 IU vitamin D supplements (n=30) or receive placebo (n=30) every 2 weeks from 20 to 32 weeks of gestation. Fasting blood samples were taken at baseline study and 12 weeks after the intervention to quantify relevant variables. Newborn’s anthropometric measurements were determined. Pregnant women who received cholecalciferol supplements had significantly increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (+17.92±2.28 vs. +0.27±3.19 ng/ml, p<0.001) compared with the placebo. The administration of cholecalciferol supplements, compared with the placebo, resulted in significant differences in serum insulin concentrations (+1.08±6.80 vs. +9.57±10.32 μIU/ml, p<0.001), homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (+0.19±1.47 vs. +2.10±2.67, p<0.001), homeostatic model assessment-beta cell function (HOMA-B) (+5.82±29.58 vs. +39.81±38.00, p<0.001) and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI) score (-0.009±0.03 vs. -0.04±0.03, p=0.004). Furthermore, cholecalciferol-supplemented pregnant women had increased HDL-cholesterol concentrations (+2.67 ± 8.83 vs. -3.23±7.76 mg/dl, p=0.008) compared with the placebo. Finally, cholecalciferol supplementation led to a significant rise in plasma total antioxidant capacity (TAC) concentrations (+79.00±136.69 vs. -66.91±176.02 mmol/l, p=0.001) compared with the placebo. Totally, the administration of cholecalciferol supplements among pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia for 12 weeks had favorable effects on insulin metabolism parameters, serum HDL-cholesterol, and plasma TAC concentrations.

    Be well!


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