For over 3000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine has promoted specialised treatment for women in pregnancy care and postpartum recovery. Today this care is becoming increasing popular and used by acupuncturists and specially trained midwives all across the world, where acupuncture is available in specialised antenatal clinics and maternity hospitals.

Pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery are viewed in traditional Chinese Medicine as a window of oppportunity to enhance the woman's well being. Conversely, if adequate care is not taken the resulting problems may continue long after the birth. Value is therefore placed on promoting preventive care to strengthen the mother and baby as well as dealing with problems as they occur during pregnancy.   


Research from Australia (1) highlighted that women receiving traditional acupuncture (where points where chosen according to an individual diagnosis) experienced faster relief when compared to those groups receiving route prescribed points or 'sham' acupuncture. This research also looked at the successful pregnancy outcomes for the women involved, concluding that 'acupuncture' is safe and effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy' (2).



The New Zealand Evidenced Based practice guidelines for care of women with Breech presentation (3) recommends that moxibustion may be offered to women from 33 weeks gestation. This follows research from Italy (4) that demonstrated moxibustion can have a significant effect in helping to turn babies who are breech. Ideally treatment is at 34-35 weeks, but can still be useful when used later in the pregnancy. Techniques can also help babies that are not in the optimal position prior to birth, such as those in a posterior position.



Three to four weeks prior to the due date a treatment to prepare the pelvis and cervix can be commenced. This is followed by one treatment per week until labour begins. Research from Germany (5) indicated the potential for a more efficient active stage of labour.  A New Zealand study with midwives (6) indicated a reduction in women requiring medical intervention, including medical induction and caesarean section.



Research from Norway (7) on the use of acupuncture for women with premature rupture of membranes (PROM) concluded that 'ideally acupuncture treatment should be offered to all women with PROM and other women who wish to use this method to facilitate their birth and keep it normal'.



(1) Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002) 'Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomised trial'. Birth. 29(1):1-9

(2) Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. (2002) 'Pregnancy outcome following women's participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy'. Complement Ther Med. 10(2):78-83


(4) Cardini F, Weixon H. (1998) 'Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation'. Journal American Medical Association. 280:1580-1584

(5) Kubista E, Kucera H. (1974). 'On the use of acupuncture in the preparation for delivery' Geburtshilfe perinatol; 178(3):224-9

(6) Betts D Lenox S (2006) Acupuncture for Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study of its use in Midwifery practise. Medical Acupuncture. Vo 17 No3

(7) Gaudernack L, Forbortd S, Hole E. (2007) 'Acupuncture adminstered after spontaneous rupture of membrances at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin. A randomised controlled trial. Midires Midwifery Digest. Vol 17, No2.