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Which complementary therapies are safe during pregnancy?

Posted by Be Well

Which complementary therapies are safe during pregnancy?
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In general, you should avoid taking any unnecessary medicines during pregnancy, including both prescription drugs and herbal remedies. This is because anything you take into your body can have an affect on the unborn baby.

Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and homeopathy, are a conventional medicine-free form of treatment. This means they can be suitable to use during pregnancy.

However they must only be used with the guidance of a qualified practitioner, and there are still certain times during pregnancy when they may not be safe.

Complementary therapies can be very effective at masking pain, which can sometimes hide a more serious underlying condition.

It's very important to attend regular prenatalcheck ups throughout pregnancy and speak to your doctor if you experience pain or any unusual symptoms you are concerned about.


Acupuncture uses very fine needles inserted at specific places in the body (acupoints) to ease pain and other symptoms.

It can be used to treat a range of problems in pregnancy, including morning sickness, constipation and to induce labor. Certain acupoints must be avoided during pregnancy, so it is important to find a practitioner who is qualified.


Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to treat certain medical problems.

In pregnancy, it can help to relieve backache and anxiety.

However, certain oils should be avoided during pregnancy while others should be avoided for the first three months. Therefore, aromatherapy massage should only be carried out by a qualified therapist.


Homoeopathy uses minute doses of the same substance that causes an illness to treat it. It's a very gentle form of treatment and can be used during pregnancy, although you should get medical advice first.


Osteopathy uses manual manipulation to treat problems with bones and joints.

The change in weight that happens during pregnancy causes the mother's center of gravity to move forwards and puts strain on the spine. This can cause lower back pain as well as affecting other joints - gentle osteopathy can help to ease this.

Cranial osteopathy is a form of osteopathy that gently massages the head - it can help to relieve discomfort during pregnancy and be beneficial for babies whose heads were molded (squashed) during birth.

Massage therapy

Massage is a hands-on therapy that uses kneading and rubbing movements to relax and heal the body.

During pregnancy it can help to relieve muscle stiffness, back pain and insomnia.

The abdomen should not be massaged during the first three months of pregnancy, and some practitioners prefer not to treat women during this period.


Reflexology is a type of massage therapy involving parts of the feet, and sometimes the hands and the ears.

Reflexologists believe that massaging certain areas of the body can improve general health and has a beneficial effect on the rest of the body.


Hypnotherapy uses a range of techniques to make people more relaxed and develop a calmer state of mind. Many therapists teach self-hypnosis techniques which you can then use during labor.

Studies have shown that women who use self-hypnosis techniques during labor tend to require less pain medication.

Other complementary therapies

In addition to the above list there are lots of other complementary therapies, many of which are suitable for use during pregnancy. Always speak to your doctor before starting any form of complementary therapy during pregnancy, and make sure you chose a fully qualified practitioner.

Another complementary therapy that is safe to use is Reiki.  There is evidence that the use of Reiki before, during, and after pregnancy has positive results both for the mother and baby.   Reiki has become a more mainstream and acceptable form of alternative treatment. It is becoming integrated within hospitals, recreation and major sports organizations, as well as in private practice. It is a popular alternative treatment that doctors are now referring to their patients.  In fact, the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Intituties Pain Clinic's nurse practitioners are all certified Reiki practitioners

One Reiki Master-Teacher, Beth Simmons Stapor, reported in a Reiki News article that a client who was four months pregnant decided to take a Reiki I workshop. During her attunement, she experienced the baby responding to the energy flow. As her pregnancy progressed she gave her baby reiki treatments. After his birth he was nicknamed the 'Reiki Baby', as he was so relaxed and contented. The mother reported that on many occasions it appeared that her baby reached out to exchange Reiki energy with her and others. She has also used Reiki to help him through teething, childhood falls, and illnesses.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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