Acupuncture during the third trimester of pregnancy can safely be used to treat aches and pains, digestive discomforts and swelling, in addition to two things unique to the third trimester.
First, if a baby is breech or otherwise malpositioned for birth, acupuncture plus a special technique called moxa can be used to turn the baby so he or she is in a head-down position. This works by stimulating special points to increase the baby’s movement, increasing the chance that they will turn. If this is your first baby, the ideal time to try acupuncture is right around 34 weeks. If this is not your first, there is a little more room in the uterus to work with so we can attempt to turn the baby a little later- up to 38 weeks. For more details on this technique please click here to read my blog post devoted to turning breech babies.
Second, I recommend patients begin twice weekly acupuncture sessions starting at 36 weeks. This is to prepare you- mind and body- for birth. I’ve found that patients who follow this schedule experience a smoother labor with fewer complications and tend to spontaneously go into labor closer to their due date. With so many hospitals pushing for medical induction at only 1 week past the due date, patients want to try everything possible to go into labor spontaneously. I also give expectant moms a handout with acupressure points for encouraging labor to progress and natural pain relief- a great way to get your partner involved in the process!