Pregnant women have been identified as high users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, no research to date has provided a detailed analysis of the prevalence and determinants of CAM consumption amongst pregnant women.
To examine the prevalence and determinants of CAM use by pregnant women, utilising a national representative sample.
The study sample was obtained via the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. This paper is based on a sub-study of 1,835 pregnant women, administered in 2010. The women answered questions about CAM use, demographics, pregnancy-related health concerns and health service utilisation.
Complementary and alternative medicine use was found to be high with 48.1% (n = 623) of pregnant women consulting a CAM practitioner and 52.0% (n = 842) of women using CAM products (excluding vitamins and minerals) during pregnancy. CAM practitioner visits were more likely for selected pregnancy-related health concerns, namely back pain or back ache, neck pain and labour preparation. Women were less likely to consult a CAM practitioner if they suffered with headaches/migraines. Employment was also found to be predictive of pregnant women's visits to a CAM practitioner. Significant health history and demographic predictors of CAM product use were tiredness and fatigue, embarking on preparation for labour and having a university education.
Most pregnant women are utilising CAM products and/or services as part of their maternity care and obstetricians, general practitioners and midwives need to enquire with women in their care about possible CAM use to help promote safe, effective coordinated maternity care.