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Acupuncture In Pregnancy

I was referred a patient, three months pregnant, for management of migraine, nausea and vomiting.  (Note to skeptics, the patient was referred by her neurologist, which proves that there is definitely a way for east and west to team up.)  One can imagine the thoughts that ran through my mind, “time to review the so-called forbidden points”.

Common sense dictates that the management of a pregnant patient, using whatever medical tradition, requires special care.  Certain drugs can’t be given, certain manipulations are discouraged, etc.  Acupuncture wise, there are points that are traditionally forbidden as strong stimulation on them would cause uterine contractions.  I shan’t mention them here for fear that the less-than-holy might use these points to induce artificial abortions.  Sorry but I don’t want to advocate that.

Anyhow it got me thinking.  The points are forbidden because strong stimulation might cause contractions.  What if no stimulation is done?  This is not an exact science because I have sometimes elicited strong qi sensations from patients despite having just inserting a needle.  To be safe, avoid using aforementioned points then.

The second reason that some points are forbidden during pregnancy is because of anatomic location.  Granted, specialists in acupuncture anesthesia for cesarean sections are used to putting in six inch needles in the abdomen, but the general population, even of highly trained acupuncturists, would rather not risk having needles anywhere near a fetus.

Another school of thought is this: use the non-anatomic (first category) forbidden points, but keep the stimulation down (as mentioned before) and keep the number of needles down.  In other words, it’s not the individual point stimulation, but the sum total of all stimulations that are important to prevent premature uterine contraction.

To be safe, I keep the number of needles down, and avoid the “forbidden” points as much as possible.

And the patient’s symptoms are much improved, btw.

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