Published on 03-21-2011
As well as fertility and birthing issues, acupuncture is very often used during pregnancy as it is both effective and in some cases there are no viable western alternatives. Breech position, back pain, morning sickness, propensity towards miscarriages, and more are all commonly treated. There are a few points, however, that are "forbidden" or "contraindicated" during pregnacy (our list is here). As I have discussed elsewhere in the forums, however, these points are often used regardless particularly in other styles of acupuncture such as Japanese and I am unaware of any studies showing negative effects.
While some of the contraindicated points are obvious such as using deep needling on CV 6 (on the abdomen) during pregnancy, others are less obvious and have more to do with their possible downward and outward effects on energy than on the location. Researchers from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil recently conducted a study on pregnant wistar rats to better understand the dynamic of two of the more arguable contraindicated points (LI 4 and SP 6) and sacral points (UB 27 and UB 28).
Needling these points in pregnancy rats the researchers analyzed rates of miscarriage/abortions and fetal weight and fetal death. They found that there were no differences in embryonic loss, fetal death, abortions, number of fetuses, resorptions and only mild differences in maternal weight gain and fetal weight but these were determined to be unrelated to treatment.
The researchers concluded that even with these contraindicated points there was no evidence that they would induce a miscarriage or otherwise harm fetal development. This, of course, is done on rats and a human study would be unethical but clinical experience shows that with proper diagnosis and use these points can be used within the right context with no harm.
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