Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture During Pregnancy
Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture During Pregnancy
October 27, 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture During Pregnancy

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Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture During Pregnancy.
Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Growing a tiny human comes with its fair share of physical aches and pains, sometimes in places you didn’t even know existed. There are a few different ways to cope with pregnancy pains, including Tylenol, prenatal massage and chiropractic care. But those aren’t your only options: Acupuncture, a form of treatment that involves inserting tiny needles into specific spots in the body, is another method worth giving a go if you’re looking for some relief.

The very definition of the practice may sound daunting, so it’s understandable if you have some questions about acupuncture during pregnancy. So we enlisted Aimee Ruiz, a licensed acupuncturist and member of the Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), to tell you everything there is to know about getting acupuncture while pregnant.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a “traditional East Asian medicine practice that uses very thin needles inserted at specific points on the body to rebalance the circulation of blood, qi, and fluids throughout your body to bring you better health and balance,” explains Ruiz. It also helps relieve pain and stress, making it a popular treatment for those experiencing pregnancy aches and pains.

How does acupuncture work?

You probably have some tactical questions about acupuncture. Here’s how it works. An acupuncturist will strategically place thin needles so that they “stimulate certain acupuncture points, [essentially] activating your body’s ability to heal itself,” says Ruiz, “it does this by activating your central nervous system, immune system, circulatory system, and lymphatic system.”

And what are acupuncture points anyway? Practitioners of acupuncture believe that there are around 2,000 such points in the body and that they’re connected by pathways. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “ These pathways create an energy flow (qi) through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease.” When needles place pressure on those particular points, it’s believed to improve that flow, which can alleviate symptoms you may be feeling.

What does acupuncture feel like?

The answer to this question will change based on who you ask. “Some people experience a tiny pinch with the needle insertion,” Ruiz says. “Some people feel no sensation at all. You might also feel a dull, achy sensation that dissipates quickly after the needle has been inserted.” Although you may see that there are needles involved and think that it must be painful, that’s not really the case. In fact, according to Ruiz, it’s quite the opposite. “For most people, it’s a gentle and relaxing experience,” she says.

What are the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy?

There are many benefits to acupuncture during pregnancy, including relieving morning sickness and stress. Many people seek out acupuncture during pregnancy to help alleviate aches and pains as well as other symptoms, like fatigue and heartburn. Some people even begin acupuncture treatment before getting pregnant to help with infertility. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it may be helpful in this regard because it can lead to, “increased uterine blood flow, inhibited uterine motility, and the anesis of depression, anxiety and stress.” While its efficacy in treating infertility is still being studied, researchers have observed positive effects in people struggling with infertility.”

It’s becoming more common for insurance companies to cover acupuncture; however, it is still a good idea to check before scheduling your first appointment. If your insurance plan does cover treatment, Ruiz says you’ll also want to “find out which specific conditions they (insurance companies) cover.”

What pregnancy symptoms can acupuncture treat?

According to Ruiz, some of the pregnancy-related symptoms that acupuncture helps to treat are:

But that doesn’t cover everything. “Other common health issues treated with acupuncture include allergies, digestive complaints, headaches, injuries and insomnia,” Ruiz says.

Is it safe to get acupuncture while pregnant?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, acupuncture is generally thought to be safe for pregnant people. “All licensed acupuncturists are trained to avoid certain points that are not safe to use during pregnancy,” says Ruiz, so it’s essential to find someone who is properly trained and has experience working with people who are pregnant. If you’re someone who is interested in more holistic prenatal care, acupuncture may be a great option for you due to its rather noninvasive, whole-body wellness approach. “It can be a helpful addition to your care team especially if you come into pregnancy with pre-existing conditions and you are unable to take your regular medication for them,” Ruiz says. There are some instances when one should use caution such as “those with bleeding disorders, pacemakers, and infectious skin diseases.” Keep in mind: everyone’s bodies and pregnancies are different, so it’s best to discuss your health history with your acupuncturist and your doctor before beginning any treatment.


Aimee Ruiz, L.Ac., FABORM is an acupuncturist and herbalist in Oakland, CA at East Bay Acupuncture and specializes in fertility, prenatal, birth, and postpartum care.

Briana Engelbrecht is a content assistant at Babylist, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and product guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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