Nearly half of pregnant women are turning to complementary and alternative medicine, suggests the results of a new study from Australia.
Although many women seek natural treatments during pregnancy, few studies had examined the frequency and nature of CAM utilization by pregnant women.
In a study of 1,835 women in Australia, 48.1% said they used some form of alternative medicine during their pregnancy, and 52% used CAM products.1
The most common reasons for women to seek alternative treatments were back pain, neck pain, and labor preparation.Fewer women sought CAM for relieving headaches and migraines.
Massage therapy was the most used complementary treatment (used by 34.1% of women), followed by chiropractic (16.3%), meditation/yoga (13.6%), and acupuncture (9.5%).
“Women are consulting with CAM practitioners most commonly for management of pain-related conditions. This may be due to women’s perceptions of CAM treatments as safer ( while being equally effective than conventional pain management,” the researchers wrote in a related study.2
The research also showed that the majority of pregnant women who visit a chiropractor are seeking relief of back and neck pain. While chiropractic is shown to be effective for spinal pain, research also suggests that it can help with other pregnancy-related symptoms like pelvic pain and headache.
In addition to easing pain, chiropractors can also offer natural prenatal care with nutritional counseling, exercise therapy, and stress-management.
1. Frawley J, et al. Prevalence and determinants of complementary and alternative medicine use during pregnancy: Results from a nationally representative sample of Australian pregnant women. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2013; doi: 10.1111/ajo.12056.[E-pub ahead of print].
2. Steel, et al. Utilization of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners within maternity care provision: results from a nationally representative cohort study of 1,835 pregnant women. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012; 12 (146).