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Acupuncture is an excellent tool for the treatment of various conditions during pregnancy. As a non-pharmacological method, it is ideally suited to this delicate time period in a woman's life. Indeed one of its main advantages is arguably the avoidance of unnecessary medication, the potential harms of which are exemplified by the devastation caused by thalidomide, which was of course originally introduced as a treatment for pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture may be used antenatally, for labour and delivery, and even during the postnatal period. Given the lack of any evidence of harm following acupuncture treatment during pregnancy,1 which is further highlighted by the accompanying paper by Carr,2 the aim of this editorial is to provide an overview of the current indications for obstetric acupuncture, to share my personal experience in this area, and to offer some practical suggestions for treatment.
Much of the acceptance of acupuncture within the scientific community is due to pioneering work that demonstrated its effectiveness for the treatment of nausea and vomiting. While most well-designed studies have focused on chemotherapy-induced or postoperative nausea and vomiting, there is evidence that acupuncture can also be effective in pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting across the spectrum from morning sickness to hyperemesis gravidarum.3 Around the time of delivery, it has been shown to be effective as a complementary or alternative technique for intrapartum analgesia,4 and acupuncture and/or moxibustion at BL67 is often used to promote cephalic version in breech presentation,5 ,6 typically between 33 and 35 weeks’ gestation. Acupuncture and related techniques may also be used to increase the …
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