Whether or not you should have massage or acupuncture when you’re pregnant has been debated in some circles, causing confusion with some pregnant women. When you’re pregnant, you of course only want the best for your growing baby! As a result you’ll do, or not do, whatever it takes. Since acupuncture and massage therapy can both provide great relief from some of the discomforts that come along with carrying a child (including aches and pains, as well as nausea, headaches, sleep issues, and more), it would be a shame to have to suffer through those nine months without some support from these natural health care modalities. Luckily, there is good evidence to support the fact that both massage therapy and acupuncture are safe while you’re pregnant – just make sure that whomever is treating you has the proper training.
Some people who massage are concerned with treating, or in fact ‘over-treating’ pregnant women, and so you may find that some will either refuse to treat you at all, or will only treat you under certain conditions. For example, some are under the belief that low-back massage during pregnancy is dangerous because it can potentially dislodge your placenta. This is, of course, scientifically untrue as your placenta attaches to your uterine wall, and not anywhere on your back muscles or spine. A registered massage therapist is a properly trained and regulated health care provider who knows not only how to treat you when you’re pregnant, but is also very well trained in helping relieve some of those sore spots that have been bugging you of late. You will even find some who have taken extra courses to hone their skills.
During pregnancy, acupuncture is in fact contraindicated for points on your sacrum, your abdomen, and also a few other points on your body, including a couple on your ankles, hands, and shoulders. These points encourage contractions, and so should not be used until you are ready to go into labour (or need some help moving things along when the time comes!). Acupuncture points on your low back can be used during pregnancy, but the needles should be inserted only very shallowly. Bottom line: make sure that when you have acupuncture that it’s performed by someone properly trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). These days, several professions are permitted to do acupuncture, but it is really only the TCM practitioners who have the full training in all the details of more sensitive issues, such as pregnancy.
So there really is no good reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy either acupuncture or massage therapy while you’re pregnant. Just do your due diligence and make sure that your masseuse is a registered massage therapist, and that your acupuncture is being performed by a TCM practitioner. And then have a happy and healthy pregnancy!
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner
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