The Sydney based Fertility Health team is highly experienced in treating women throughout pregnancy and can provide safe and effective treatments to support pregnancy and its related conditions.
Common pregnancy conditions that we treat include:
- Morning sickness and vomiting,
- Chest infections, coughs, and flu,
- Sinus infections and allergies,
- Pre-eclampsia and placenta-previa,
- Low back and hip pain,
- Carpel tunnel syndrome,
- Painful joints, and swollen hands and feet,
- Fluid retention,
- Fibroid management,
- Low blood pressure,
- High blood pressure,
- Gestational diabetes,
- Labour induction,
- Breech presentation.
Chinese Medicine (CM) has a long history of treating women’s issues that dates back to around 1,500 BC. The Treasure of Obstetrics by Jing Xiao Chan Bao, written around 800 AD, is the earliest surviving CM text dedicated to obstetrics, and includes 12 chapters on the treatment of various troubling conditions during pregnancy. From this time there have been many other ancient texts written, as well as more recent texts, to support this increasingly growing field in CM.
Additionally, there has also been significant scientific research in the last few decades on acupuncture during pregnancy. Much of this was collated in a 2013 research paper by Soliday et al that looked at this body of research and concluded that acupuncture was a "promising, low cost treatment for pregnant and post partum women". Amongst this body of research there are studies that highlight acupuncture as an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (Smith, 2002), that it can assist in the treatment of pelvic and lower back pain during pregnancy (Kvorning, 2004), and that is can help alleviate symptoms of dyspepsia in pregnancy (Da Silva, 2009).
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are suitable throughout all stages of pregnancy. However, it is important that the CM practitioner has extensive training and mentoring in this field because acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment protocols are very different in pregnancy compared to non pregnant treatment strategies. This is supported by research that has highlighted the safety of acupuncture in pregnancy when treatment is provided by a qualified and experienced practitioner (Park et al, 2014).
Acupuncture is a safe and effective method of treating many common complaints throughout pregnancy, and assists the body in coping with the multitude of changes that occur. Additionally, it is being increasingly recognised that pregnancy is a critical time when the nutritional status of the mother significantly influences the future health of the baby (Aisling et al, 2015; Drake et al, 2012). As such, our team endorses a healthy diet and all recommended supplements to ensure the best outcomes for both mother and child.
Our Fertility Health team at RACM typically treats patients weekly in the first trimester, while we recommend twice weekly treatments for those patients who have had either difficulty conceiving or a history of miscarriage. Additionally, based on health, age, and medically diagnosed risk factors, we may recommend weekly support until the 25th week of pregnancy.
Our team believes it is critical to support the woman through her pregnancy to feel as well as possible while reducing any pregnancy complications. The majority of our patients have fortnightly treatments from 12 until 35 weeks where we then revert to weekly treatments for pre birth support. The team follows and advises on the Australian and New Zealand Perinatal guidelines on a range of pregnancy-related issues including still birth prevention.
One area of pregnancy where acupuncture has become recognised as an effective treatment, is in breech presentation. At 28 weeks, approximately 20% of babies are in the breech position, however most turn of their own accord by 36 weeks. For those babies that don't, acupuncture has been proven as an effective method for encouraging this movement. In fact, research has shown that acupuncture intervention is more effective than expectant management of a breech presentation (Van Den Berg, 2008). The team at RACM encourages treatment from 36 weeks (and often 33 weeks).
- Aisling et al, (2015) Nutrition During Pregnancy impacts Offspring's Epigentic Status – Evidence from Human and Animal Studies, Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, 2015: 8:41-47.
- Drake et al, (2012) An unbalanced Maternal Diet in Pregnancy Associates with Offspring Epigenetic Changes in Genes Controlling Glucocorticoid Action and Foetal Growth, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, 2012: 77(6):808-815.
- Betts, D. (2006) The essential guide to acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth. Journal of Chinese Medicine.
- Soliday et al (2013) Research on Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth: The US Contribution, Journal of Medical Acupuncture, 2013 Aug; 25(4):252-260.
- Park et al (2014) The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review, Acupuncture in Medicine 2014 Jun; 32(3):257-266.
- Smith et al (2002), Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial, Birth, 2002 Mar; 29(1):1-9.
- Kvorrning et al (2004) Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy, Acta Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia, 2004 Mar; 83(3):246-50.
- Da Silva et al (2009) Acupuncture for dyspepsia in pregnancy: a prospective, randomized, controlled study. Acupuncture in Medicine 209; 27:50-53.
- Van Den Berg et all (2008) Effectiveness of Acupuncture type interventions versus expectant management to correct breech presentation: a systematic review, Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2008 Apr: 16(2):92-100.
Acupuncture labour induction, or 'pre-birth' preparation, is a safe and effective way to promote labour in women with uncomplicated pregnancies (Betts, 2006). Records dating from the Jin Dynasty in 265-460 AD document acupuncture being used successfully to induce labour. A recent study by Kate Levett published in the British Medical Journal found that acupressure and complementary medicine techniques significantly reduced epidural use and caesarean section (Levett, 2016).
Based on the Fertility Health team's anecdotal evidence at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre and current research, we recommend acupuncture treatments weekly or twice weekly from 36 weeks on to reduce medical intervention and emergency caesarean rates. The aim of the treatments is to encourage cervical ripening, prepare the uterus for labour, shorten labour times, and reduce the need for Western medical intervention. The acupuncture treatments we provide are tailored specifically to each individual's needs, and our Fertility Health team can also teach clients how to stimulate acupressure points for pain relief during labour.
Breech presentation in the latter weeks of pregnancy is also a common condition we treat in preparation for labour, and the Fertility Health team has very good anecdotal evidence over nearly three decades to support the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion for breech presentation, especially if treatment starts between 33 and 36 weeks (because the baby needs the room to move into place). There is also significant research evidence to support the use of acupuncture and moxibustion to resolve a breech presentation (Smith, 2013; Neri, 2004; Habek, 2003).
It is our team's experience that the baby generally starts to become immediately more active throughout the acupuncture session, and this activity continues throughout the day, as the baby moves out of breech. The mother is always more comfortable when the baby is out of the breech position and as mentioned above, several clinical trials also support our Centre's evidence, making acupuncture a relaxing way to move the baby into position.
- Betts. D. et al (2006) Acupuncture for Pre Birth Treatment: An observational Study of its use in midwifery practice: Journal of Medical Acupuncture, 2006, 17, (3)16-19
- Levett. K. et al (2016) Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour. BMJ Open 2016: 6:e01691
- Smith. CA. (2013) Moxibustion for breech presentation: significant new evidence. Acupuncture in Medicine 2013; 31:5-6
- Neri et al (2004) Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study. Journal of Maternal-fetal and Neonatal Medicine: 2004 Apr; 15(4): 247-52
- Habek et al (2003) Acupuncture Conversion of fetal breech presentation. Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy 2003 Nov-Dec; 18(6):418-21.