Acupuncture for Morning Sickness

I have treated many cases of morning sickness over the years and have experienced it myself during both of my pregnancies.  To put it bluntly, morning sickness is horrible – constant nausea throughout the entire day leaving you to feel exhausted, drained, unable to focus, irritable and anxious. Even on a good day, there can be that constant nausea lingering in the background deep in the pit of the stomach that you just cannot shake. For the majority of expectant mothers, morning sickness lasts up to about the fifteen week mark of pregnancy. It occurs in approximately one half of all pregnancies and is most intense between 8 to 12 weeks. The intensity of the nausea can vary depending on factors such as fatigue and eating habits.

Nausea is caused by the increase in hormone levels – HcG (human chorion hormone) and estrogen. Also, fatigue & stress can contribute to nausea. It is even thought that if a woman is quite stressed and tired prior to becoming pregnant, her intensity of nausea is worse.

You have probably heard of the common tips to help with morning sickness – ginger tea, lots of rest, not skipping meals & snacks, seabands and supplementing with vitamin B6 for example. In my clinical practice, I sit down with the expectant mother and discuss her diet, lifestyle, stress levels and emotional health and give recommendations accordingly. I then administer acupuncture as it is my primary tool in treating morning sickness. Acupuncture strengthens the energy of the digestion and treats underlying imbalances. In the majority of cases, acupuncture can dramatically improve morning sickness. Acupuncture is best done twice per week in the first week and then once per week thereafter until the expectant mother feels well and back to herself again. The points needled are typically on the limbs and upper abdomen.

If the mother is able to keep things down, I can also prescribe Chinese herbal medicine which helps tremendously with morning sickness. These herbs are often given in tablet or powder form which is mixed with hot water to make a medicinal tea.  The herbal formulas aim to ease the stomach, strengthen the digestion, resolve dampness/phlegm, nourish the Qi (energy) of the body and stop vomiting.

I advise the mothers to stay hydrated as even slight dehydration can lead to increased nausea. I recommend potato soup, veggie or chicken broth, herbal teas, ginger tea and/or peppermint tea in small doses throughout the day. The acupuncture treatments work very well to allow women to tolerate drinking more fluids to begin recovery. I also stress to women how important it is to have a lot of support from friends and family throughout this difficult time and to try to arrange some rest consistently at the time of day when they are most prone to having the nausea.

Women are advised to seek acupuncture treatment sooner rather than later. The reason for this being that the morning sickness can be difficult to shift if its pattern is established and already embedded in the body’s responses.  Also, why suffer when there is a safe, drug-free and effective way of helping you feel like yourself again.

Thank you for reading and best wishes!
Dr. Maryam


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