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Using Acupuncture For Pregnancy (5 Benefits for Pregnant Women)

Using Acupuncture For Pregnancy (5 Benefits for Pregnant Women)

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Nicole Nabatkhorian
Dr. Nicole Nabatkhorian

MD / PGY-2 Pediatrics

Disclosure: Some of our articles contain links to recommended products or services in which we may receive a commission if you make a purchase.

Whether you’re currently pregnant or trying to conceive, you may have considered the benefits of acupuncture. Many pregnant women turn to it as a way to ease pregnancy symptoms and women trying to conceive wonder if it can boost fertility. 

Acupuncture for pregnancy can be a way to ease morning sickness and pelvic pain. Some studies have even shown that acupuncture can increase your chances of getting pregnant. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, remember to consult with your doctor before trying acupuncture.

There are many tips out there for relieving pregnancy symptoms and boosting fertility, but it’s difficult to tell what’s most effective. Keep reading to find out how acupuncture can benefit you.

Person performing acupuncture

What is acupuncture for pregnancy?

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that dates back thousands of years. Though modern science has been resistant to recognizing acupuncture, it has been used throughout history with some surprising results.

One example of this was the experience of New York Times journalist James Reston. In the 1970s, Reston was accompanying President Nixon on his famous trip to China when he needed to have an emergency appendectomy. As treatment for his severe pain, one of the doctors recommended acupuncture.

To Reston’s surprise, the treatment managed to significantly reduce his pain and discomfort. His entire experience was published in the New York Times on July 26, 1971, under the title “Now, About My Operation in Peking”.

The description of this exotic Eastern medicine from a journalist in a credible newspaper sparked a lot of interest. In fact, Reston’s article is often credited with the popularization of acupuncture in the West as a pain relief method.

When it comes to acupuncture treatment for pregnancy, it was first used in the field of obstetrics and gynecology in the late 1980s. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy.

Benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy

After acupuncture started to become more popular, it was introduced as a treatment for certain pregnancy symptoms. Studies have shown acupuncture during pregnancy can be used to treat the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Back and pelvic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Headaches

Being pregnant is not always easy, and even in the first trimester, women experience a lot of different symptoms. If you’re experiencing a lot of challenging symptoms, you may be willing to try anything to find some relief. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, acupuncture may be an effective way to help you have a more comfortable pregnancy.

Benefits of acupuncture during first trimester

Pregnancy can certainly come with a number of unpleasant symptoms, but there are many medications you can’t take while you’re pregnant. Many women turn to acupuncture for a more natural and safe alternative to ease some of their pregnancy symptoms.

Here are some of the unpleasant symptoms acupuncture may be able to help with:

Morning sickness

About 70-80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, which usually nausea or vomiting. It’s also most common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting during the first trimester.

Back and pelvic pain

Back and pelvic pain are also common pregnancy symptoms. For many women, acupuncture can greatly reduce pain and provide some much-needed relief.


Depression is a mental health issue that affects many women, including those who are pregnant. There is some evidence that acupuncture can help treat depression. However, there needs to be more studies done to show what is most effective for pregnant women.

Woman suffering from headache


Many pregnant women want to avoid unnecessary medication, but it can be difficult to find relief from headaches without medication. Acupuncture can be an effective way of reducing pregnancy headaches or migraines.


Growing a baby is hard work and when you’re pregnant, you need all the sleep you can get. For pregnant women experiencing insomnia, acupuncture can be an effective treatment.

Is acupuncture safe for pregnant women?

For the most part, acupuncture is a safe for pregnant women when conducted by a licensed and experienced acupuncturist. However, there are some health and safety concerns to keep in mind when it comes to pregnant women and women trying to conceive.  

Timing: If you’re trying to conceive, you should let your acupuncturist know and share where you are in your menstrual cycle. This is because some acupuncture points should be avoided during certain phases of your cycle. 

Similarly, if you are close to your due date, you should be avoiding needles in your lower abdomen and lower back since they can stimulate contractions. Unless you get the go-ahead from your physician, it is best to avoid such areas. 

Blood Thinning Medication Complications: If you are taking blood thinning medications, you should keep in mind that acupuncture needles may cause you to bleed more than normal. Remember to always disclose any medication you’re taking to your physician as well as your acupuncturist. 

Hygiene: This goes without saying, but your acupuncturist should maintain the highest standards of hygiene and always use properly sterilized needs. A lapse in hygiene standards can cause serious infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and other blood-borne illnesses.

What acupuncture points should you avoid during pregnancy?

There is conflicting evidence about what acupuncture points, if any, should be avoided during pregnancy. In most cases, the points that should be avoided are ones that may induce labor prematurely.

Generally, the acupuncture points that are best to avoid during pregnancy are those in the lower abdomen and the lower back.

Pregnant woman belly with baby shoes

Acupuncture for fertility

Infertility is something many women struggle with and there are a wide range of treatment options. Although some women choose to go through with in vitro fertilization, or IVF, it does come with a number of dangerous complications, such as multiple births, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, and ectopic pregnancy. 

Before trying IVF, you might consider acupuncture as a safer, more natural way to boost your chances of getting pregnant.

Although there isn’t conclusive evidence that acupuncture will boost fertility in all cases, it has been shown to be effective for many men and women. Some studies have shown that acupuncture works by improving men’s sperm quality and improving the ovary function of women as well as balancing the endocrine system.

It’s also important to note that acupuncture can help relieve stress, and stress is believed to be one of the factors when it comes to infertility.

While Western medicine is often skeptical, there are numerous anecdotes of people who have had success with it. In addition, due to its stress-relieving abilities, it is unsurprising that those who undergo the process claim to have had success in conceiving. 

When should I do acupuncture when trying to conceive?

If you’re using acupuncture as fertility treatment, you might wonder when the best time to start is. Since all women are different, there isn’t one definitive answer. However, it may be best to start at least 3 months prior to the time you would like to conceive.

You should also pay attention to where you are in your cycle. Acupuncture may be most effective when you schedule it during days 5-8 of your cycle. You can also use acupuncture on the day of or day before ovulation for best results.

What does acupuncture feel like?

A lot of people are hesitant to try acupuncture when they hear needles are involved. According to Inner Peace Acupuncture, a clinic based in Charlotte, NC, a common worry is that the needles might feel like hypodermic injections. Thankfully, acupuncture needles are hair-thin and flexible. You probably won’t even feel it when they’re inserted.

The experience is actually surprisingly pleasant for most people. Of course, your experience depends on the skill of the person performing the acupuncture and how much training they have. With less experienced acupuncturists, you might initially experience a “little jolt.”

People who get acupuncture for pain relief often claim they experience relief almost immediately. A lot of pregnant women also find acupuncture to be a cathartic experience since it helps with many of the symptoms and changes that come with pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can acupuncture help induce labor?

Acupuncture, especially certain points, can help to induce labor. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor before getting acupuncture and communicating with the person performing the acupuncture about what stage of pregnancy you’re in.

Does acupuncture help with pregnancy?

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce many of the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, back pain, pelvic pain, and insomnia.

How long should you do acupuncture when pregnant?

Everyone is different, so there isn’t one set number of times you should receive acupuncture during pregnancy. Assuming there are no other health concerns, pregnant women can benefit from weekly acupuncture appointments.


You might currently be pregnant and looking for relief from your pregnancy symptoms, or you might be trying to conceive. Acupuncture has been shown to provide pregnant women with relief from certain pregnancy symptoms and boost fertility for those trying to have a baby. Whether you’re currently pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.

Joshua Bartlett
Joshua Bartlett

My name is Joshua Bartlett I run this blog with my wife Jarah. We have more than 11 years of parenting experience including three girls and one boy. I started this blog in late 2018 when I realized that I was dealing with baby-related issues on a constant basis…please read more about me here!