Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among pregnant women continues to grow, with a recent study finding 49% of women visit a CAM practitioner during their pregnancy.
In the study, lead author and PhD student Amie Steel found that almost half of the 1835 women surveyed visited a CAM practitioner during pregnancy.1
The women were asked about their visits to both conventional health care practitioners (GPs, obstetricians, midwives) and CAM practitioners (including acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopaths and massage therapists) for pregnancy related health conditions.
Half the number of pregnant women saw a CAM practitioner during their pregnancy with massage therapists topping the list.
Women consulting with CAM practitioners most often required help for the management of pain-related conditions, with back pain the most common condition for which they sought help.
Naturopaths and acupuncturists were most often consulted for pregnancy-associated nausea, massage therapist for neck pain, while most visits to chiropractors were for back pain and sciatica.
Also making headlines in the news is the widespread benefits of probiotic supplementation for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Recent clinical trials have shown that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy can reduce the incidence and severity of allergic disease in infants, support healthy growth patterns in the first few years of life and reduce the symptoms and recurrence of medically diagnosed lactational mastitis in breastfeeding women.2,3,4
The results of the survey and the positive findings in these clinical trials highlight the important role that CAM practitioners can play in supporting women’s health during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Steel A, Adams J, Sibbritt D, et al. Utilisation 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.
- Dotterud CK, Storrø O, Johnsen R, Oien T. Probiotics in pregnant women to prevent allergic disease: a randomized, double-blind trial. Br J Dermatol 2010 Sep;163(3):616-23.
- Luoto R, Kalliomaki M, Laitinen K, et al. The impact of perinatal probiotic intervention on the development of overweight and obesity: follow-up study from birth to 10 years. International J Obesity 2010;34:1531-1537.
- Arroyo R, Martín V, Maldonado A, et al. Treatment of infectious mastitis during lactation: antibiotics versus oral administration of Lactobacilli isolated from breast milk. Clin Infect Dis 2010;50(12):1551-8.