Acupuncture offers wonderful support for pregnant patients with nausea and morning sickness (or all-day sickness).
The symptoms may include nausea, low to no appetite, food aversions, dry heaving, and vomiting; they can range anywhere from mild discomfort to hyperemesis gravidarum.
Current Research on Acupuncture for Morning Sickness
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and modern research shows acupuncture to be effective. In a 2002 study of 593 women less than 14 weeks’ pregnant with symptoms of nausea or vomiting, researchers concluded that “acupuncture is an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy.” You can read the abstract: link here.
Acupuncture is Safe in Pregnancy
Acupuncture is being researched around the world as a natural approach to many medical conditions. Acupuncture has been shown to be safe in early pregnancy and through each trimester. In all the studies to date of using acupuncture in pregnancy, none of these studies have shown any adverse affects from acupuncture.
In Traditional East Asian Medicine, there are acupuncture points that are traditionally forbidden to be used in pregnancy because they are said to stimulate the uterus. In modern research, these points have not been shown to actually cause adverse affects. In my practice, my mission is to provide the safest possible experience for my patients, so I choose to avoid these forbidden points throughout pregnancy. I trust the wisdom of the ancient practitioners.
When a patient comes in with morning sickness, we first assess their overall health. I will often make dietary and other natural recommendations that may support them during this time. I will determine the diagnosis and choose acupuncture points that will restore balance. I may also recommend acupressure points that the patient can massage at home that may offer relief.
During the treatment, patients lay on a comfortable massage table. I use a gentle and effective acupuncture technique to provide the most comfortable experience possible. Patients have the choice to listen to soothing music as they lay on the table for the 20-30 minute treatment. Many patients report feeling relaxed and rested after the treatment.
Frequency of Treatments
Acupuncture has a cumulative effect. Although some patients with morning sickness notice a major shift after a single treatment, most will need several treatments to feel a difference. We expect the results to be a lessening of the symptoms to a more manageable situation.
If you want to try acupuncture for morning sickness, I recommend treatments one to two times per week for the first two weeks to help shift the symptoms. After that, some patients will need weekly maintenance appointments to keep the symptoms manageable until they subside.
For many patients, the morning sickness will subside at 12-14 weeks. There is relief in sight!
Studies on Acupuncture safety in pregnancy:
2019. Moon HY and MR Kim et al. Safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: A retrospective cohort study in Korea. BJOG (British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology). The study analyzed 20,799 pregnant women.
2014. Park Jimin and Sohn Youngjoo et al. The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acupuncture in Medicine. The study analyzed 105 studies.