The practice of acupuncture has been around for over 5,000 years. The Chinese used acupuncture to attempt to cure diseases and relieve pain. Many people today believe that acupuncture during pregnancy has the potential to relieve nausea, anxiety, migraines, mood swings, and other pregnancy symptoms. While there is no solid scientific evidence that acupuncture has any actual physiological benefits, it can indeed be effective for relieving anxiety and minor aches and pains. The reason it works in some cases is the placebo effect — people expect to feel better, so they do.
Why is Acupuncture Used During Pregnancy?
There are a variety of reasons why acupuncture is used while a woman is pregnant. Acupuncture is sometimes used to help women suffering from depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders that are generally associated with pregnancy and hormones. Again, no scientific study has ever demonstrated any physiological effect, but women who believe acupuncture works may sometimes be able to use it to work themselves through minor depression and anxiety. Many pregnancy symptoms, including fatigue, morning sickness, and back pain, may abate with acupuncture due to the placebo effect.
Pregnancy Acupuncture Dangers
Acupuncture is not cheap — sessions can range from $75 to $100, depending on the practitioner — and it may not always be safe. Like most “alternative” medicine, acupuncture can be dangerous if you rely on it to treat a serious medical condition. Most acupuncturists have received little or no real medical training, and are not equipped to diagnose illness. Furthermore, a patient who believes her pain has been treated may avoid consulting her doctor about the reason for the pain, and a dangerous medical condition may go undiagnosed until it threatens her life or the life of her baby. While there is nothing wrong with using acupuncture to treat minor aches and pains or to lift your spirits, any severe pain or feeling of illness may be a sign that something has gone wrong with your pregnancy, and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.