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Acupuncture, Massage & Moxa in Pregnancy & Birth

Acupuncture is a safe, drug free treatment choice to support you and your baby throughout all the stages of your pregnancy - from morning sickness to labour induction.  Ruth offers a range of pregnancy and childbirth support including:

  • acupuncture and/or acupressure for morning sickness

  • pregnancy massage and/or acupuncture for back pain (and other musculoskeletal issues such as carpal tunnel)

  • acupuncture for emotional support (including sleep issues)

  • moxa tutorial for turning breech

  • birth preparation acupuncture and acupressure information for natural birth


How Acupuncture may Help

Ruth is a professional acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).  The BAcC produce factsheets so that the general public can find up-to-date information about how acupuncture may help them.  They provide a fact sheet on obstetrics which summaries research on how acupuncture may be of benefit during pregnancy.  The bio-medical information below comes from this factsheet - which you can also dowload yourself.

In pregnant women, acupuncture 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 (Samuels 2008). Acupuncture can alter the brain's mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels (Zhou 2008), and increasing endorphins (Han, 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee 2009), 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 (Pomeranz, 1987; Zhao 2008; Cheng 2009);

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Zijlstra 2003; Kavoussi 2007);

  • 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 (Van den Berg 2008)

During your treatment Ruth may employ a range of traditional Chinese medicine techniques, depending on your condition.  For example, Acupressure (firm sustained pressure to a specific acu-point) or moxa (burning herb) may be used with, or without the use of needles.  As traditional acupuncture is an holistic treatment, it will be decided which treatment modality/ies would best suit you at your initial consultation.

Moxa Training for Breech
A smouldering herb known as moxa (moxibustion) is burnt at a specific area at the end of the little toe. This point, when stimulated with moxa, has a powerful effect on relaxing the muscles of the uterus encouraging your baby to turn. 


The compressed herb is in the form of a cigar-shaped stick.  The end of the stick is lit and the herbs start to smoulder. The point is warmed on both little toes for about 15-20 minutes. The heat that is generated radiates into the point and stimulates its actions on the uterine muscles.  The moxa does not touch the skin, but must be held at a safe distance away.


Ideally treatment is started at week 34 of the pregnancy and the best results are often gained before week 37 as after this stage there is so little room for the baby to move. Moxibustion is a safe and gentle way of attempting to turn babies.

At you moxa tutorial you will be taught how to safely apply the moxibustion at home, providing you with enough moxa sticks for you to complete a 10 day course should you need to.  You are welcome to bring a partner or friend to your moxa demonstration.

Birth Preparation Acupuncture & Acupressure
As you prepare physically and emotionally for birth and motherhood, acupuncture may support your transition.  From 36 weeks we begin a pre-birth weekly acupuncture protocol.

I recommend  Debra Betts, a midwife and acupuncturist, free booklet:
Acupressure Promoting a Natural Labour & Partner Involvement

Pregnancy Massage
Regular massage throughout pregnancy may help relax tense muscles, ease sore areas, improve circulation and mobility and is tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies.  Carrying a baby changes the centre of gravity and puts a lot of stress on back, neck, abdominal muscles and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes ligaments, so that pelvic joints are less stable, which can change posture, pulling the pelvis forward which can lead to back pain or discomfort.


Pregnancy massage is also really relaxing and many ladies come simply as a treat!

As well as regular acupuncture and massages throughout pregnancy I also recommend that you attend a pregnancy yoga class, I do not teach these myself but I am happy to recommend local classes.

Many pregnant patients report the benefits of Hypnobirthing.  At Carlisle Therapies holistic centre we run regular Hypnobirthing group courses and shorter half day birth-preparation sessions.  These are highly recommended.



  • You & Your Bump, Emma Cannon

Useful Links

  • The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC)

  • Acupuncture & Acupressure for Pregnancy and Childbirth, Debra Betts

  • Spinning Babies

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