Morning Sickness and Acupuncture

Morning sickness…. It can be a vague feeling of nausea at the start of the pregnancy or being physically sick several times a day. It can disappear after the famous 12 weeks mark or it can go on for months afterwards, up to 20 weeks, sometimes for even longer.

Research has shown that between 50% and 80% of women experience nausea at the start of their pregnancy and about 50% do get physically sick. For some women, vomiting is so bad that it leads to dehydration, weight loss and a possible ‘small for date’ baby.

Research and acupuncture for morning sickness

Several studies have been done on acupuncture and morning sickness. A meta analysis on electro-acupuncture and acupuncture in pregnancy has shown that electro-acupuncture and acupressure reduced nausea and vomiting. And a 2011 literature review by Freels shows that acupressure on P6 reduces the nausea symptoms.

Nausea and Chinese medicine

It is interesting that most of the research has been done using one specific acupuncture point P6. Situated on the inside of the arm, this point is well known for its anti-nausea properties. It is also very easy to find. That’s one of the reasons why it is used with travel sickness bands. However, there are many more points combinations that can be used in Chinese Medicine to help and support pregnant women.

As it is usually the case, there is no direct relationship between the Western diagnosis of ‘morning sickness’ and one single Chinese Medicine diagnosis. A full history will allow the acupuncturist to make his diagnosis and establish the points prescription specific to that particular woman. The practitioner will also be able to give some dietary advice depending on the diagnosis.

Once you are on the road of recovery, there are simple things you can do to ease of the nausea.

1.Keep hydrated. Be sure that, even if you have some nausea, you still drink water on a regular basis. More often than not, little and often works best rather than a whole glass in one go.

2.Choose your drink and start with water, water and water. Try and experiment with herbal teas too such as ginger tea, chamomile or peppermint tea. Ask your practitioner if some of those are perhaps more suitable for you. Someone with some ‘heat signs’ will do better with peppermint tea whereas someone with ‘cold signs’ or suffering from tiredness might do better with ginger tea.

3.Eat small portions regularly and keep to simple, bland foods. Porridge, rice or soups are easier to digest but still very nutritious. Keep some crackers with you so can snack easily. Some people find ginger biscuits help or eating a little before getting up in the morning.

4.Be weary of smells. You will probably find that you have become much more sensitive to smells. If possible, stay away from the offensive odours.

Finally don’t forget that if you really cannot keep any food or drink down, you need to contact your GP or midwife. Excess vomiting can be a serious issue during pregnancy and you would need to be followed by a health care professional.

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