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For National Complementary Therapy Week 23rd – 28th March, I am looking at the use of Complementary therapy during pregnancy. 

Complementary therapy has gained massive popularity and is especially favoured during pregnancy, labour and for postnatal recovery. As many as 87% of women use self prescribed natural remedies or consult a complementary therapist during their pregnancy. 

With many conventional drug treatments unsuitable during pregnancy and a whole host of ailments triggered at this time, complementary is very popular for helping with back and pelvic pain, anxiety, insomnia, morning sickness, heartburn and pain relief in labour. Women are also likely to be more motivated to look after their physical and emotional wellbeing when they are expecting a baby. 

Due to the small number of studies, there’s still relatively little evidence around the efficacy and safety of many complementary therapies, as it does not easily lend itself to the randomised controlled and blind testing models used for trials and testing during pregnancy can be unethical.

There is, however, strong supportive evidence for some complementary therapies such as aromatherapy and massage, for reducing anxiety, tension and encouraging muscle relaxation during pregnancy and labour and also ginger and acupressure for helping to relieve morning sickness. Evidence from a review of 5 randomised control trials, involving 749 women, also suggest that hypnosis decreases the need for pain relief methods and interventions in labour and increases the incidence of spontaneous vaginal birth. 

Complementary Therapy during Pregnancy

Anecdotally many women have found these complementary therapy and the support of their therapist invaluable during their pregnancy. Popular therapies include:

Reflexology

Massage

Osteopathy

Hypnotherapy

Acupuncture

Nutritional therapy

Aromatherapy

Herbal medicine

Complementary Therapy during Pregnancy

Your choice of therapy is likely to depend on which appeals most, recommendations from friends and family and accessibility. Whichever you choose, ensure you find a therapist with specific training, expertise and insurance for working with pregnancy. Certain herbs, essential oils and supplements are contraindicated for use during pregnancy, so always speak to a qualified practitioner before using these. Let your health professional know if you are using complementary therapies. Equally your therapist should ask about any medications you are taking to avoid any possible adverse interactions. 

One consequence of the pandemic and the lockdowns is that many women have unfortunately been unable to enjoy and benefit from regular treatments during their pregnancy. Which did you find most useful in your pregnancy? Which are you most looking forward to, when they return, if you’re expecting now?