The research on the safety of acupuncture during pregnancy is quite clear.  It can confidently be said that when practiced by a registered acupuncture professional, it is safe to have acupuncture at all stages of pregnancy.

In this blog, we review the evidence which shows people benefiting from acupuncture throughout pregnancy with no increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Firstly, let’s look at two large separate systematic reviews that have found the adverse effects of acupuncture in pregnancy are usually mild and short-lived and,  in many cases, were comparable to that of non-acupuncture therapies (1, 2).

In the first systematic review (1), the most frequent adverse effects included mild reactions typically associated with acupuncture but that are not harmful to the pregnancy.  These include reactions such as bruising, discomfort on needle insertion and minor bleeding.  These adverse effects did not affect pregnancy outcomes.

Each of the individual studies within this review (1) concluded acupuncture as a safe treatment during pregnancy when the practitioner is educated, trained and experienced.   Thanks to AHPRA registration you can now be assured that your acupuncturist holds these standards.  Since July 2012, acupuncturists in Australia must have adequate training including an approved degree, commit to ongoing professional development, advertising standards and a safety and hygiene code of conduct.

The second systematic review (2) also concluded that whilst adverse events do occur in the pregnant population, they are largely minor and transient.

In another large study (3) looking at the medical records of over 20,000 pregnant patients, it was found that women having acupuncture had no increased risk of preterm labor or stillbirth. Again, it was concluded that acupuncture during pregnancy is a safe therapy for relieving discomfort without adversely affecting the health of the mother or baby.

Another study (4) we looked at focussed specifically on the first trimester of pregnancy.  This study looked at 593 women who were having acupuncture to treat nausea and/or vomiting, and no increased risk of adverse events affecting either mother or baby were found.

Although only a small study (5), an Australian Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) concluded that prenatal acupuncture (between 24 and 31 weeks) reduced depression, stress and distress in pregnant women.  This RCT also confirmed the safety of acupuncture in pregnancy when it reported the trial to be free from adverse events.

If you want to read more on these papers, we also provide references (below) when citing research so you can access more details.  However, if you’re not as into looking at research papers as we are, another great place to get confidence is government websites and clinical guidelines (that have already done the research for us).

The Australian Government Health Guidelines website: Pregnancy Birth and Baby recommends acupuncture for a variety of things including to reduce pain in labour and with a safety statement we love – “there are no known side effects of acupuncture for you or your baby” (6) and when commenting on safety for acupuncture more generally in pregnancy as follows – “Acupuncture or acupressure is generally safe when performed by a trained acupuncturist. Mild pain from the needles is the most common side effect.” (7).

Finally, we want to highlight the Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines (8) which recommends acupuncture specifically for Pelvic Girdle pain and cites studies to state that “no serious adverse effects were reported (minor side effects included bruising, pain on needle insertion, bleeding, haematoma and fainting)”.

It is so satisfying to see the evidence base for acupuncture (and specifically acupuncture in pregnancy) growing. We see many pregnancy related conditions including: early trimester support, nausea and vomiting, hypertension and preeclampsia, musculoskeletal pain including pelvic girdle, pubic symphysis, back and hip pain, breech positioning, labour preparation, heartburn and reflux, insomnia, constipation, hemorrhoids, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, oedema and stress, anxiety and depression.

All of our acupuncturists at Yin are fully qualified and registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA) with additional studies in perinatal, fertility and pregnancy acupuncture.  We see people from preconception and at all stages throughout pregnancy with the confidence that acupuncture is not only effective but also safe.  We hope the research discussed here gives you the same reassurance.


1. Park, J., Sohn, Y., White, A. R., & Lee, H. (2014). The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acupunct Med, 32(3), 257-266. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2013-010480

2. Clarkson CE, O’Mahony D, Jones DE. Adverse event reporting in studies of penetrating acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015;94(5):453–464. doi:10.1111/aogs.12587

3. Moon HY, Kim MR, Hwang DS, et al. Safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a retrospective cohort study in Korea. BJOG. 2020;127(1):79–86. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.15925

4. Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Complement Ther Med. 2002;10(2):78–83. doi:10.1054/ctim.2002.0523

5. Ormsby SM, Smith C, Dahlen H, Hay, P. (2020). The feasibility of acupuncture as an adjunct intervention for antenatal depression: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial.



8. The Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines – Common Conditions during Pregnancy: