Acupuncture for Morning Sickness: Does it Work?

Morning sickness can be a real pain. Studies show that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of women experience nausea and vomiting in the first trimester and beyond. Doctors are often hesitant to prescribe drugs, within good reason because many are unsafe for your growing baby. That leaves mamas to be in a tricky spot, though, Obviously, no one wants to suffer through morning sickness for months. For this reason, some women seek out an alternative medicinal method to help relieve the discomfort of morning sickness: acupuncture.

Acupuncture for Morning Sickness: Does it Work?

What is Acupuncture?

The ancient practice of acupuncture may not be well-known in the United States just yet. BUT, the people of China have been using it for more than 2,500 years to treat a variety of ailments, including morning sickness. It consists of a trained practitioner inserting fine, solid-filament sterile needles into one or more points in the body. The Chinese believe there are 365 points and they correspond to pain or medical conditions. When there are problems it is because there is a blocked energy flow along something called a meridian ”“ an energy channel within the body that requires a consistent and balanced energy flow for optimal health and wellness. When the energy flow in a meridian is blocked, it can lead to pain and discomfort. So, the goal of acupuncture is to restore energy balance and flow.

How Can I Use Acupuncture to Treat Morning Sickness?

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that common pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are caused by disharmony between the energy flow of the spleen and the stomach. Sometimes the liver and the stomach. Most often, the practitioner will place acupuncture needles in the inside of the wrist to treat these energy disharmonies. 

Does Acupuncture Actually Work to Treat Morning Sickness?

While some women swear by acupuncture for morning sickness, scientific studies have shown mixed results. Some show significant improvement in subjects, while others have been inconclusive. In general, however, acupuncture is known to positively impact a number of medical conditions, and more than 8 million Americans have undergone acupuncture treatments since practitioners began offering services in the States in the 1970s.

It’s important to note that most morning sickness treatments work for some women and not others, so acupuncture is no different in that respect. Ginger works for some women but not others, some find relief from vitamins while others don’t, and so on. So, if you’re suffering from morning sickness and you’re willing to try acupuncture, it may end up providing just the relief you’re looking for even if someone else you know didn’t find success with it.

What to Expect at an Acupuncture Appointment

Usually, an acupuncture appointment for morning sickness begins as most any medical appointment does. The practitioner will document your medical history and complaints and explain a bit about the process of acupuncture. Then, they will do “an analysis of pulses,”. There is a total of 28 pulses that an acupuncture practitioner can feel on your wrist. They will use them, along with a visual examination of your tongue, to get a baseline of your overall health. At this point, the acupuncturist can develop a treatment plan specifically for you. Ask questions at any point you feel you need to and be sure you understand and agree to the treatment plan, as you would before undergoing treatment with any medical professional.

Once a plan is in place, the needle placement will begin. Since the needles are so small, they cause very little discomfort. Placement can be as quick as 15 minutes or last up to an hour, depending upon your needs. After they insert the needles, the acupuncturist will stimulate them in various ways. This lasts for 25 minutes or so. Your acupuncturist will try to ensure your comfort the whole time, and a pregnant woman can typically lie on her back or side or sit upright in a chair. You may need just one treatment, or you may require many depending upon your individual needs.

Many acupuncture patients report feeling a sense of relaxation soon after the needles are inserted. Some also describe feelings of euphoria and wellbeing or even a floating sensation. All of these experiences are medically attributable to a release of endorphins in the bloodstream.

Is it Safe?

The National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Integrative Health studies acupuncture, including techniques used to relieve morning sickness symptoms in pregnant women. Their professional publications list it as an extremely safe technique. In addition, multiple studies have shown that acupuncture is nearly devoid of side effects when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner. They use sterile needles, and they only use each needle once in order to ensure cleanliness.

This being said, make sure to contact your doctor and discuss the option of acupuncture during pregnancy before making an appointment. 

Similar Methods

Some acupuncturists also provide related, complementary treatments. A common one is to massage the areas where needles are typically inserted, as well as to use electropuncture. This is the practice of using electrical needle stimulation.

There is also a form of heat therapy, called moxibustion, commonly used in tandem with acupuncture. It involves burning an herb called mugwort, which many believe to have healing properties. Moxibustion has been thoroughly studied by the World Health Organization. They consider it an effective treatment for multiple medical conditions, including to treat persistent nausea and vomiting.

Is Acupuncture Right for You?

There is no surefire cure for morning sickness, but there are many options available to try out like acupuncture. Individual women have varied results with all of them, acupuncture included. However, if you’ve tried more traditional methods to quell your symptoms with little or no results and morning sickness continues to impact your everyday life, it may be worthwhile to try this ancient technique for yourself.

*We recommend always contacting your primary doctor before any medical procedure.

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