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Morning sickness is one of the most debilitating aspects of pregnancy in the first and second trimester.

Acupuncture and acupuressure are commonly used treatments for morning sickness. Even if acupressure doesn’t work to relieve the symptoms, acupuncture can still work.

Chinese Medicine expert, Marie Hopkinson, explains there is a big difference between the two therapies:

Acupuncture can access the bodies Qi (Energy) in multiple places at once, while acupressure can only access it in one point at a time (as you press each one). While some treatments of self-acupressure can be powerful, there can be many reasons why acupressure doesn’t work for morning sickness.

Here are some of the reasons acupressure may not work:

1) Incorrect point location

One common reason is the point location is wrong. Neiguan Pc 6 (called Pc 6 because it’s the sixth point on the pericardium channel) is a common point for nausea. It’s used in treating travel sickness and you will often see the bands you can put around your wrist to supposedly stop the nausea. If the band is in the wrong place, or the tightness of the band isn’t sufficient to press the acupressure point then no effect will likely take place.

Pc 6Location of Pc 6 Neiguan is deep between 2 tendons

IMG_0070

2) Not enough or correct stimulation of the point.

Points are deep in the body not on the skin. Another common reason why acupressure fails some people is that they don’t obtain the Qi (Energy) of the acupuncture points by the pressure. An acupressure practitioner (also called a tui na practitioner) is a skilled practitioner of Chinese Medicine (in China it’s a 5 year course) and they use around 28 different techniques, all with many hours of repeated, dedicated and specific training to be able to get the Qi (energy) of your body in the acupressure points. Not to say a layperson can’t get the Qi, there is just a bit more skill involved than finding a point and pressing on it.

3) Wrong point for the pattern.

In Chinese medicine, morning sickness doesn’t have a one-size-fit all diagnosis. When you see an acupuncturist they don’t do acupuncture points for morning sickness, they do points for your pattern of disharmony that are causing the morning sickness. Two common patterns are “Liver Energy invading the Stomach” and “Deficiency of energy and blood leading to weakness of the Spleen and Stomach energy”.

Essentially with nausea and vomiting, there is a mechanism of action problem with the Stomach Energy. Stomach Qi (Energy) should go down, when Stomach Qi goes up, we call it rebellious Stomach energy, rebellious Stomach Qi can cause nausea, vomiting, reflux, acidic regurgitation and even epigastric pain. There are other points used for different reasons why the Stomach Qi has become rebellious. Often a combination of points is needed to have a therapeutic effect (as with acupuncture) rather than one point at a time (possible with acupressure).

By the way, the location of Pc 6 Neiguan is 2 cun* above the crease of the wrist, on the inside (medial aspect) of the wrist.

*a cun is a measurement used in Chinese medicine, based on your body. 2 cun is is two fingers (of your fingers) spaced slightly apart. (1 Cun is the width of a thumb), so Neiguan, PC 6 is:

IMG_0073

The point is that if you’ve tried acupressure for morning sickness before and it didn’t work, it does not mean that acupuncture won’t work. Also, that a more targeted or specific approach of acupressure could still be effective. It’s worth seeing a professional, qualified practitioner of Chinese Medicine if you are suffering with morning sickness in pregnancy.

Did acupressure or acupuncture work for your morning sickness? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • I have never tried it, cheers.

    Reply

  • Acupuncture broke my waters. You need to be very careful. Acupuncture needs to be done by a specialist and MANY of them won’t touch you when pregnant,


    • Hi mom70876, yes acupuncture should always be done by a trained Chinese medicine practitioner. In Australia, they have to be registered with AHPRA. This article focuses on Acupressure – thats pressing points for morning sickness. If people are unsure of whether it’s suitable for their situation they should seek the advice from a Chinese medicine practitioner and/or their doctor.

      In my practice, I routinely use acupuncture and Chinese herbs for pregnancy, Ive not had the experience that a registered acupuncturist would not touch a pregnant woman before, but if they didn’t feel competent in that area they might refer you to a practitioner who has more experience in OBGYN areas of Chinese medicine.

    Reply

  • This is fascinating I never knew any of this

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  • Absolutely nothing worked for me.

    Reply

  • I had it really bad to the point i just couldnt keep anything down!


    • Sharna, thats a great point you make, and that’s when Acupuncture and/or acupressure can be tried. Ginger tea and even tablets of ginger or other natural remedies can’t be used effectively if food cant be kept down at all.

    Reply

  • Unfortunately I was too sick to even consider acupuncture. It puts the fear in me right now imagining all those little needles. I had a friend who tried this and it didn’t necessarily work. I think when you’re at your lowest though, you may try anything. I had 24/7 sickness for the entire pregnancy so it seemed that I tried everything, when I could get out of bed to do so. Sometimes nothing works, so you just have to ride it out.


    • That is a great point rovermum. I certainly have had a few patients that have been so sick they could not even hold any food down. Your other point about freaking out about so many needles when your already nauseous is a great point, that I’ve experienced from ladies in my clinic too. Yes, people will come in when they are desperate to try anything. When I’m treating patients who are very very nauseous and also concerned about needles, we would actually only use one or two points. Often this has a calming effect, and then a few more needles might be used, but this is not even necessary in all cases for effect. If pregnant ladies have this same concern, you should definitely discuss with your practitioner before starting the treatment. Practitioners are trained to handle these situations. Acupuncture dosent have to be like the “100 needles in the guy” like you see in the Matrix! Thanks for your valuable comments.

    Reply

  • Will definitely try this for future pregnancies. Orange juice was great during first pregnancy morning sickness!

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  • I never used these methods either.

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  • Im so thankful that in all 3 of my pregnancies I never experienced morning sickness. My mother was never bothered with it either. I will be interested to see if my daughters struggle with it.

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  • never tried it. Maybe with my next pregnancy if i get morning sickness? :)

    Reply

  • I’ve had 3 pregnancies and suffered severe morning sickness every time. Was advised to eat some dry biscuits before I got out of bed in the morning but the problem with this was I woke up to be sick. By the third pregnancy I was advised to only eat light food and in small quantities so of all the advice I received this worked best for me. Unsure if I would have tried these methods.

    Reply

  • Have used acupuncture for aches and pains and must admit I find it quite relaxing.. so if it helps with morning sickness, I say go for it.


    • Thats great Cherz I’m so glad you\’ve experienced the benefits of Chinese Medicine in your own life, there are so many health complaints that Acupuncture can help people with.

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  • I just tried to avoid cooking anything – I had daylong sickness.

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  • I’ve no doubt many expectant Mums will try acupuncture after reading this.

    Reply

  • I only had morning sickness for about six weeks and it was pretty mild, so I just got through it. I haven’t heard of acupuncture for morning sickness, but I have heard that ginger really helps.


    • Glad to hear you didn’t have to suffer morning sickness, and yes, Ginger can be used. In Chinese Medicine we see ginger as a warming herb which can descend the rebellious Stomach energy. In my practical experience I see some patients that have tried ginger, it diddnt work but the acupressure exercises and acupuncture can still help. If people want to try ginger, steep 5 slices of fresh ginger in hot water for at least 15 mins (cover mug with a plate or use a teapot) and add a teaspoon of sugar or honey. Sip slowly.

    Reply

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