Your Pregnancy - Acupuncture

Maternity Services - Your pregnancy - Acupuncture - Top image

The Maternity Acupuncture Service at the Whittington Hospital

 At the Whittington Hospital, acupuncture is used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medicine.  Acupuncture can be used at all stages of pregnancy, and for support during the postnatal period.

Antenatal acupuncture is available as a no-cost self-referral service for patients registered with the Whittington Maternity.

Postnatal acupuncture and antenatal acupuncture for mothers who are not registered with the Whittington Maternity are low-cost self-referral services.

Acupuncture during pregnancy can be beneficial for: 
  • Birth preparation
  • Musculoskeletal pain, e.g., back pain, sciatic nerve pain and pelvic pain
  • Turning babies from breech, transverse or back-to-back, to head down presentation
  • Severe vomiting (hyperemesis)

Acupuncture after giving birth is useful for:
  •  Pain management
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Breastfeeding support

Birth preparation

Acupuncture is a natural and gentle treatment which may help prepare for and promote 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, reduces stress and anxiety in order to prepare for labour and birth.

There is evidence showing that acupuncture can reduce the chance of going over the estimated delivery date, and that it may reduce the duration of labour 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 reduces 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).

Moxibustion to help turning babies from breech to head down presentation

 In addition to acupuncture, at the Whittington Maternity Acupuncture Service, we train and support patients to use a technique called moxibustion. This is a heat therapy applied on acupuncture points using herbal moxibustion sticks (or moxa rolls).

Using moxibustion increases the chances for babies to turn from breech to head down presentation. 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 and provided with natural moxa rolls.

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.

Mental Wellbeing 

There is growing evidence to suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial for the treatment of depression in pregnancy and post-natal depression, as well as having an impact on stress and anxiety, and complement other methods of emotional support. 

Breastfeeding support 

Acupuncture may improve outcomes in terms of maintaining breastfeeding and support milk production by regulating release of oxytocin and prolactin.

Acupuncture treatment

During an acupuncture session, very fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body and left for 20 to 30 minutes.

Acupuncture is generally very safe. Most often seen adverse events are minor bleeding or bruising. However, on rare occasions, patients may feel lightheaded.

For more information, please feel free to contact us (see below contact details).

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.

Treatments are offered every two weeks for musculoskeletal conditions, and weekly for hyperemesis.
For babies in breech/back-to-back or transverse position we encourage you to visit our service. We provide the training for moxibustion and the moxa rolls as a drop-in service.

We experience high demand for sessions and advise you to book your appointments at least four weeks in advance.



Fetal Medicine Unit                      
Level 5, Kenwood Wing,
The Whittington Hospital
Magdala Avenue, N19 5NF

Contact and book an appointment

 To book an appointment we would appreciate it if you could:
  • Use our online self-referral form
  • Call 07824 864455 and leave a message on our voicemail.
  • Visit our service and discuss with our practitioners and staff.

Please consider that the service is typically very busy and that we will do our best to answer as soon as possible.


Referring patients to the Whittington Maternity Acupuncture Service.

 At the Whittington Maternity Acupuncture Service we simplified the referral pathway, and we encourage healthcare providers to direct patients to contacting us directly via phone, email, through our online self-referral form, or in person.

Last updated29 Aug 2023
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