When you’re Pregnant in the second or third Trimester, you may start to feel the niggles, aches and pains of your body adjusting to accommodate the baby as it grows. Aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, and lower back are common as your posture changes. A massage sounds divine, but here’s some tips before you get started.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a group of acupoints or areas they recommend avoiding during Pregnancy. They’re called “forbidden” points, but what this really means is they are Pre-Birth Acupoints for late Pregnancy. It means an Acupuncturist will avoid needling, massaging or stimulating these acupoints too much unless they have a really good reason to, such as a woman with severe back pain.
The Purpose of the “Forbidden” (Pre-Birth) Pregnancy Points
The intention of these Pre-Birth Acupoints is to bring on labour – and of course during Pregnancy, we don’t want to do that until the very end, close to full term at 37 weeks or more.
The highest risk is in the first Trimester, where risk of miscarriage is higher than the rest of the pregnancy, especially weeks 6-8.
I explain to my clients that I avoid using these points during Pregnancy, because the points have a downward directing action on your qi. This is why we use them to promote labour- at that stage we want to direct energy downwards to encourage baby to move downwards towards the cervix and engage.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that acupuncture brings on miscarriage of harms the growing foetus at any stage of Pregnancy. These points should be used with caution and when the practitioner has good justification for doing so.
Safe Acupuncture Practices during Pregnancy
All other points are safe to use in Pregnancy as they don’t have as strong a response in Pregnant women. It is also common sense that no needling should take place on the belly of a heavily pregnant woman.
The intention of treating a Pregnant woman in 1st, 2nd and most of 3rd trimester with Acupuncture should be to keep bub exactly where it is. This means using acupoints that lift or raise the energy of the uterus and keep bub safe. We don’t want them going anywhere as they continue to grow and develop.
My advice is to always seek the help of a Licensed or Registered Acupuncturist who knows what they’re doing and can reassure you about safe Acupuncture practices during Pregnancy. Because there are so many wonderful benefits for women from acupuncture in the lead up to their birth.
Avoid the risks where possible
The contra-indicated Pregnancy acupoints can be a risk to some people, not everyone, but you don’t know who will react to them and who will be fine. So its best to avoid them in all Pregnant women.
This includes more vigorous techniques of massaging, trigger point therapy and deep tissue massage on these points.
I am particularly cautious with women who have a history of miscarriage, haemorrhaging or bleeding during pregnancy and are physically weak and lethargic – too much stimulation is simply too strong for them. A more robust Pregnant woman should be ok if her medical history is ok.
The areas to AVOID stimulating when Pregnant:
1. The top of the shoulders
2. The soles of the feet, behind the ball of the foot.
3. The headache acupoint between the thumb and index finger
4. The inside of the ankle
Talk to your Therapist, voice your concerns.
The main concern is when Pregnant women go for massage, the therapist might not know about these acupoints/areas, so you should ask them not to massage deeply in these spots. Possible reactions could be spotting, bleeding or uterine cramping, as I’ve had a client report this back to me after it happened to her.
For more information about the contra-indicated points in Pregnancy, or if you’re concerned about the risks vs the safety of Acupuncture during Pregnancy, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.