Your Pregnancy - Acupuncture

Maternity Services - Your pregnancy - Acupuncture - Top image
The Maternity Acupuncture Service at the Whittington Hospital
Acupuncture is a form of therapy that originated thousands of years ago in China. Currently, it is used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medicine.
During an acupuncture session, very fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body and left for 20 to 30 minutes.
Acupuncture can be beneficial during pregnancy for:
  • Birth preparation
  • Serious musculoskeletal pain, e.g. back pain, sciatic nerve pain and pelvic pain
  • Turning babies from breech to head down presentation
  • Severe vomiting (hyperemesis)

Birth preparation
Acupuncture is a natural and gentle treatment which may help prepare for labour.
It can encourage the body to naturally release the hormones that soften and ripen the cervix (prostaglandins) and the hormone that triggers contractions (oxytocin). It can help to bring the baby into the best possible position for birth, helps to relax muscles and tendons, calms the mind and strengthens the blood and energy levels in order to prepare for labour and birth.
Evidence shows that acupuncture can reduce the chance of going over the estimated delivery date and makes it less likely that birth will need to be induced.
Musculoskeletal conditions
Acupuncture can be used to treat musculoskeletal problems. The insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body is proven to reduce pain by releasing tension and improving the local blood flow, as well as stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce endorphins (natural pain relieving chemicals), melatonin (which promotes sleep) and serotonin (to promote wellbeing).
Turning babies from breech to head down presentation
In addition to acupuncture, a technique called moxibustion may be effective for turning babies from breech to head down presentation. Herbal moxa sticks are lit and held over acupuncture points. The heat of the moxibustion helps to increase fetal movement, which might help turn your baby. You will be advised how to perform moxibustion at home.
Severe vomiting (hyperemesis)
Severe vomiting (hyperemesis) can be experienced during pregnancy, usually during the first 12 weeks. Acupuncture can help to relieve the discomfort of hyperemesis.
Acupuncture for birth preparation is available to women with high-risk pregnancies from week 37/38 and to all other women from their estimated delivery date. Treatment consists of weekly acupuncture sessions and may continue until the start of labour.
Acupuncture for musculoskeletal conditions, babies in breech position and hyperemesis can be booked through your midwife or doctor. Treatments are offered every two weeks.
Acupuncture is generally very safe. Most often seen adverse events are minor bleeding or bruising. However, on rare occasions, patients may feel lightheaded.
We experience high demand for sessions and advise you to book your appointments at least four weeks in advance.
Acupuncture team
  • Dr Amali Lokugamage, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, MBChB, BSc, MSc (Epidemiology), MD, FRCOG, SFHEA
  • Dr Alex Eftime, Lead Acupuncture Practitioner, BSc (Hons) Traditional Chinese Medicine, MSc Chinese Medicine, MBMAS, MBAcC, MATCM & General Practitioner
Fetal Medicine Unit, Level 5, Kenwood Wing, The Whittington Hospital, Magdala Avenue, London N19 5NF
Contact and book appointments
To book an appointment please call 07824 864455 and leave a message on our voicemail. We will contact you within 24 hours to offer you an appointment.
Page last updated: 26 Jun 2019
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