Obstetrics

Pregnancy is a physiological state, but even when a woman has an uncomplicated pregnancy she may suffer from back and pelvic pain, nausea, indigestion, or emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promote relaxation.

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In pregnant women, acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain (e.g., back pain, labour pain), improve mood and reduce anxiety, alleviate dyspepsia, and turn a foetus who is breech by:

  • increasing relaxation and reducing tension. Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels, and increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, which can help to combat negative affective states.

  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors

  • increasing cortico-adrenal secretion, placental estrogens, and changes in prostaglandin levels, which leads to raised basal tone of the uterus and enhanced movement of the fetus, thus making version more likely.