Pregnancy & The Third Trimester

Seattle, Tacoma & Bellevue Clinics

As the woman heads into the Third Trimester, the honeymoon of the second trimester gives way to preparing for labor. The weight and size of the baby often begins to become more difficult as well.
Mothers to be will often get acupuncture during the Third Trimester to help with:

  • Labor preparation
  • Aches and pains
  • Breech positioning

Labor Prep and Pre-Birth Acupuncture

Labor Prep acupuncture and acupressure is one of the best kept secrets of Chinese medicine. When a woman prepares for labor using acupuncture at the office and acupressure at home, the results can be dramatic. If we have a very committed couple doing the acupuncture and acupressure leading up to delivery, it is amazing the stories they come back with how well the birth has gone! It is highly worth it to take the time to prepare for labor with acupuncture and acupressure.

Our goal is to have every pregnant person go into labor already dilated to 8 cm. We work very hard with women from 36 weeks onward to help them and their bodies get prepared for labor. We use acupuncture and have support people do acupressure both towards this end - prepare for labor so that the birth is efficient and the woman's body is prepared.

Labor Prep Acupuncture and Acupressure Can:

  • Reduce stress hormones. Stress can cause oxytocin levels to drop and labor contractions to slow down.
  • Help to dilate and ripen the cervix.
  • Help prepare the body for labor to start naturally.

Breech Positioning

During the last trimester, it is possible for your baby to turn (or not turn) in such a way as to be considered a breech position, i.e. not in the accepted cephalic or head down position. If this happens and you want to avoid a C-section, Traditional Chinese Medicine may offer help in turning the baby.

Treatment is generally given between weeks 30 through 38, with week 34 being the optimal time.Treatment involves the burning of an herb called mugwort (moxa) over a point on the fifth toe.

Applying heat to this point appears to stimulate production of placental estrogens and prostaglandin, both of which are maternal hormones. This hormonal increase encourages uterine contractions, which in turn stimulates fetal activity.

In a 1998 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 75.4% breeches successfully turned in the moxibustion intervention group compared to 47.7% in the control group.  260 pregnant women diagnosed with breech positioning, who were otherwise healthy, were randomized into two groups: the intervention group received moxa treatment; the control group received no treatment other than routine care. All were at 33 weeks gestation. This study has been replicated several times with as high as a 90% success rate. See the Research Page to read the studies.

Services Available for Third Trimester Women at Acupuncture Northwest

Acupuncture - Prepare for labor, also help with breech presentation, and aches or pains.

Massage - You can also see our massage therapists for a "Making Room for Baby Massage" (Tacoma only) or a "Maya Abdominal Massage" for third trimester massage.

Book your appointment here. See you soon!

Acupressure During Labor - Can be done by your support person/people while you are in labor. Acupressure during labor is effective for reducing pain and anxiety, turning a posterior baby, it also gives your support people a way to be involved, engaged and feel useful. Here is a wonderful video you can get to help you both prepare for labor by learning these acupressure points starting at week 37. Get the video here.


Reduction in labor duration - Research now shows that women who receive acupuncture for 4-6 weeks before giving birth have a significantly shorter and less painful labor than those that do not. This information is based on a control study recently done at the University of Vienna in Austria. The study suggests that women who received weekly acupuncture treatments (verses a group that did not) experienced a decrease in duration of the first stage of labor. It also shows that the women without the acupuncture treatments received significantly more oxytocin during the first and second stages of labor.

For more research see our research section

I send all of my OB patients for labor prep to Acupuncture Northwest & Associates
- Tacoma OB/GYN
Thanks so much for the effort to induce my labor back in August….. I think that the work you did helped soften up my cervix to really make things go smoothly and quickly.
- T.D.
I call Matt the baby whisperer. My body went into labor shortly after seeing him.
- anonymous
“I just wanted to call and let you know that I went into labor that evening after I saw Matt and the birth went smoothly and I think it was because of the acupuncture!” – via phone call on April 12, 2019
- J.