‘Acupuncture for antenatal depression: It's worth giving it a go’ — A qualitative study

Simone M. Ormsby, Hannah G. Dahlen, Carolyn C. Ee, Hazel Keedle, Caroline A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Treatment strategies for the management of antenatal depression are limited by varied and often modest response rates, unpleasant medication side effects and uncertainty regarding foetal safety. Consequently, many pregnant women experiencing depression seek alternative non-pharmaceutical options. Acupuncture may provide a safe and potentially effective additional treatment, however further investigation is required. In this qualitative study, we explored the views of health professionals regarding the possible incorporation of acupuncture into mainstream care. 

Methods: Two separate focus groups were run with 16 midwives. In-depth interviews were conducted with two maternity service managers and nine doctors (3 obstetricians, 2 psychiatrists and 4 general practitioners). Data was analysed using thematic analysis. 

Results: Participants were generally positive about acupuncture and open to its possible inclusion in conventional care, on the proviso that it was safe and could be shown to be effective. The overarching theme to emerge was ‘acupuncture for antenatal depression: it's worth giving it a go’ which participants concluded after considering ‘the dilemma of mental health’ treatment during the antenatal period and the additional limitations this presented, along with the belief that ‘if it doesn't do any harm, I'm not against it’. Practical considerations regarding potential ‘barriers’ and facilitators’ to implementation were additionally explored in ‘making it mainstream’ whereby the different ‘philosophical beliefs’ held by participants were seen to influence perspectives. 

Conclusion: Participants expressed an overall positive attitude towards the possible inclusion of acupuncture into mainstream care for antenatal depression, suggesting various hospital barriers could be overcome with further safety and effectiveness evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number3
Early online date29 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Acupuncture
  • Antenatal
  • Depression
  • Qualitative
  • Research


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