How Acupuncture Helped Maisie’s 3rd-Trimester Heartburn


Today I’d like to share a very simple acupuncture treatment that I’ve used to help Maisie with the intense heartburn she’s been experiencing in her third trimester of pregnancy. I did this same treatment when she had heartburn with our first child and it has worked an absolute treat both times.


What Does Western Medicine Say about Heartburn?



Heartburn is well known for appearing in later pregnancy but can appear at any time and symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and vomiting. It can have a big impact on food intake and sleep quality.


Increased levels of progesterone and oestrogen have a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles in the body, and in the digestive tract, this can lead to indigestion and heartburn. In the third trimester, the uterus pushes up into the diaphragm and stomach which only intensifies the problem.


What Does Chinese Medicine Say About Acupuncture for Heartburn?


The fundamental characteristic of heartburn in Chinese medicine is an impairment of the Stomach’s ability to send Stomach-Qi down to the Small Intestine – and a large baby in your uterus surely qualifies for this! If this downward movement of Stomach-Qi is hampered it will end up moving in the opposite direction and this can lead to issues such as nausea, fullness in the upper abdomen, belching, and sour regurgitation. With acupuncture, it always comes down to what pattern of imbalance is underlying the issue, and in the case of heartburn during pregnancy, we can usually narrow it down to one of two things:


Stomach Fire Blazing

With this, you would have a feeling of burning heat and pain in the upper abdomen, and a thirst for cold drinks. You might also be experiencing a dry mouth, dry stools, mouth ulcers, sour regurgitation, nausea, vomiting soon after eating, vomiting of sour fluids, excessive hunger, a feeling of heat, and mental restlessness.

Food Stagnation in the Stomach

With this, you would have a feeling of fullness and pain in the upper abdomen, and would also have sour regurgitation. You might also experience nausea, vomiting of sour fluids, belching, insomnia, and poor appetite.


How I Helped Maisie’s Third-Trimester Heartburn with Press Needles


The nice thing here is that whichever pattern is causing your heartburn there is one wonderful point that can provide a great deal of relief.


Many people will have heard of using sea sickness bands for pregnancy-related nausea, and these work by applying pressure to an acupuncture point called ‘Inner Pass’ on your wrists – although I have to say that many people might not be applying enough pressure for this point to be effective. (Here a press needle would work wonderfully!)

Inner Pass


Not many non-acupuncturists will have heard of a point called ‘Inner Courtyard’ located between the second and third toes. This is an excellent point for helping to settle heartburn, and it can be stimulated in several ways…

Inner Courtyard


Firstly, there is the good old acupuncture needle, and I highly recommend this if your husband happens to be an acupuncturist. If not, you could always book an appointment with your friendly neighbourhood practitioner.


Press Needle

Then, there is my reason for writing this blog post, and that is to extol the virtues of a press needle stuck on the ‘Inner Courtyard’ and changed every three to five days. As I said, Maisie has had pretty bad heartburn, but she says that this simple treatment has been very effective in helping to control it. The best of all is to have the acupuncture needle, and then apply some of these little beauties at the end.


I would also suggest that you try some simple acupressure techniques on this point. You could ask a helpful someone to apply pressure with their thumbs to the points on each foot. Then, you could perhaps persuade them to make small anti-clockwise circles while applying pressure.
If you can’t find anyone to press and prod your feet, I recommend using the heel of one foot to press down on this point, and then while applying pressure to push down over your toes as if trying to squeeze something out from between your toes.


So there you have it. A very simple treatment that does wonders for women suffering from the discomfort of extreme heartburn during pregnancy. If you know of anyone who might benefit from this knowledge then please do pass it along.

Related Articles

Andrew Wormald

Acupuncture, Tuina Massage & Qigong Specialist

Andrew is a lifelong practitioner of traditional self-cultivation practices. This journal is a space to share insights and information with like-minded people.

If you have any comments or suggestions please post them below or you can email

Keep up to date on all activities

Focus on Qigong
Learn More