Independent Midwives’ Understanding And Experience Of Acupuncture In Pregnancy

By Jane Marsh



Complementary and alternative medicine is becoming increasingly popular with pregnant women. The use of acupuncture for many pregnancy related conditions including nausea and vomiting, back and pelvic pain, breech presentation, induction of labour and routine pre-birth treatments has been the subject of many studies and clinical trials with promising results. Despite this, the number of pregnant women seeking acupuncture during pregnancy remains low. Midwives are an important source of information for pregnant women. This study aimed to understand independent midwives’ knowledge and experience of the use of acupuncture during pregnancy. 


A postal questionnaire was sent to all 87 midwives who were registered with the Independent Midwives Association. Closed questions were used to generate mainly quantitative results.  Objectives were to discover the midwives knowledge, understanding and opinion of the use of acupuncture during pregnancy. It was also hoped to discover why midwives do and don’t refer for acupuncture and what their experience is of working with women using acupuncture during pregnancy.


The overall response rate was 65.5% (57/87) with 95% of the midwives discussing acupuncture with women. All felt acupuncture to be both safe and useful during pregnancy although there was concern about finding an appropriate practitioner. The referral rate was 85%. Induction of labour and breech presentation were the conditions for which the midwives had the greatest experience and which prompted the most referrals. Questions of effectiveness and the quality of evidence did not concern the midwives who were more influenced by their previous experience and word of mouth.


There was a high acceptance of acupuncture amongst the independent midwives. A similar study with NHS midwives would be useful in order to understand better the opinions and experiences of the midwives who care for and give information to the majority of pregnant women in the U.K.