Acupuncture is commonly recommended as a method of starting the birthing process moving for women who have passed their due date in pregnancy. With a reputation for being able to gently encourage the body to begin it’s work, the popularity of acupuncture as an induction method is rising. Most women view having medical induction as a last resort, so its definitely worthwhile trying acupuncture as an initial approach.
Traditionally acupuncture approaches birth in two phases. The first phase is birth preparation acupuncture. Birth preparation acupuncture usually starts at around 35 weeks gestation, and aims to gently promote the cervix to ripen and encourage the baby to position itself into the best position for birth. It also relaxes muscles and tendons and helps to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mother’s nervous system and strengthening her spirit. During this phase the acupuncturist can also assist with any other issues that might be appearing, such as lower back or hip pain, sleep disturbance or other problems.
The second phase of birth preparation acupuncture is referred to as induction acupuncture. Induction acupuncture is not performed until you reach your due date, and is used to encourage your body to begin the birthing process.
There are a number of research trials to support the effectiveness of acupuncture for birth preparation and induction. In one trial acupuncture was shown to help ripen the cervix and shorten the time between the due date and the actual delivery date, reducing the incidence of medical induction[i]. Another trial demonstrated that electroacupuncture could be used to promote cervical ripening, with similar results as misoprostol, with a significantly higher frequency of vaginal deliveries and without occurrence of obstetric complications[ii]. An observational study conducted in a midwifery practice demonstrated that the use of birth preparation acupuncture led to a lower rate of medical induction, reduced rate of epidural use and emergency caesarean, and increased rate of normal vaginal birth[iii]. A Further research trial published recently demonstrated a reduced rate of medical induction and reduce oxytocin use in the group receiving acupuncture treatment[iv].
When to start
At Well2 we recommend starting birth preparation acupuncture at approximately 35 weeks gestation, and you will normally have a treatment session once weekly until you reach your due date. This should be sufficient to encourage your body to begin the birthing process naturally. If labour hasn’t begun by 41 weeks, then induction acupuncture is usually commenced. Induction acupuncture is usually performed every 2-3 days until labour begins. If labour fails to start your doctor or midwife will advise you whether you can continue with acupuncture for a few more days or if medical intervention is recommended.
What to do next
Call us now on 8362 6622 and have a chat about your individual needs. We’ll book your appointments for you at a time that suits you so that you can prepare for your baby’s arrival gently and naturally.
For bookings phone 8362 6622 or contact the clinic via our contact form
© Well2 Pty Ltd 2018. Not to be reproduced without written permission
[i] Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term–a randomized controlled trial. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2001 Dec 17;113(23-24):942-6.
[ii] Gribel GP, Coca-Velarde LG. Electroacupuncture for cervical ripening prior to labor induction: a randomized clinical trial. Journal Obs & Gynecology 2011, 283(6):1233-1238
[iii] Betts D and Lennox S . Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study Of Its Use In Midwifery Practice. Med Acup 2006, 17, (3) 16 – 19 Medical Acupuncture.
[iv] Neri I, Pignatti L, Fontanesi F, Facchinetti F. Acupuncture in Postdate Pregnancy Management. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2018 Oct;11(5):332-336. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2018.06.001. Epub 2018 Jun 8