Pregnancy – The Third Trimester

Seattle, Tacoma & Bellevue Clinics

Maternity Acupuncture

As the woman heads into the Third Trimester, she usually begins to not feel as well again. The weight and size of the baby begins to become more difficult.
Mothers to be will often get acupuncture during the Third Trimester to help with the following symptoms:

  • Aches and pains
  • Breech positioning
  • Labor preparation

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. If treatment is applied after week 38, it is not as effective. 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.

TCM is often very effective at preparing the body to turn a baby with a breech presentation. Success rates are higher if the fetus is less than 35 weeks. See the Research Page to read the studies.

Labor Prep and Pre-Birth Acupuncture

When it’s time to have the baby, acupuncture helps to:

  • 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.

With all of our best intentions, we have found that although we can sometimes help the body hasten delivery, babies often come when they are ready.

Services Available for Third Trimester Women

Acupuncture - To make an appointment for labor prep or breech presentation - choose the "third trimester acupuncture" appointment if you are an established patient or make a "non-fertility new patient appointment" if you haven't been in the office before.

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. See our "Pregnancy Massage" page for more information about massage during pregnancy.

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.