Did Acupuncture work to induce labour? This is a great question and I’m asked it often. In this post, we’ll clarify what labour induction is, what Pre-birth Acupuncture is and I’ll tell you a little about my own Acupuncture preparations before labour. We’d also love for your to comment if you’ve had a story to tell about Acupuncture for your Birth Preparation.There are some in the Acupuncture industry and medical industry for that matter that have a problem with claims that Acupuncture effectively induces labour. Yet, the term “Acupuncture to Induce labour” is used often in conversation and its common for potential clients to misunderstand its meaning.
What you need to know about Induction:
The following terms are used a lot in the Pregnancy space, so lets clear up some definitions.
1. Surgical Induction: Means breaking your waters, often using a device to manually break the amniotic sac during an internal examination. It’s otherwise known as Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM)
2. Medical Induction: Using Oxytocin via an IV, or the Prostaglandin gel to ripen the cervix and induce labour.
3. Acupuncture for labour induction (Pre-Birth Acupuncture): The preferred term is now Pre-Birth Acupuncture, with clinical studies showing Acupuncture may assist cervix ripening, manage stress and anxiety which are deterrents to labour proceeding.
Here are the trials:
Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6
Kubista E Kucera H. Geburtshilfe Perinatol. 1974; 178 224-9
Lyrendas S, Lutsch H, Hetta J, Lindberg B. Gynecol. Obstet.24; 217-224
Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5
My own story of using Acupuncture for a Successful Birthing Outcome.
Being a TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist, I already knew that Pre-Birth Acupuncture existed. I had planned once I reached 37 weeks that I would book weekly Acupuncture sessions in to specifically prepare my body for birthing. I had been told by midwives and other mothers that because I was a first timer, I would go overdue, as this is how it always is. Neverthless, I stuck to my preparations.
After the first session at 37 weeks (a Tuesday), I was un-characteristically feeling lethargic and nauseous on the Saturday. Early Sunday morning I went into pre-labour and then by Sunday night things were in full swing. My son was born 5am Monday morning.
So if you ask me the question “Did Acupuncture work to induce labour?”, my answer is it worked for me.
When I see Pregnant clients, they have high hopes for a miraculous 1 session effect. I would say this rarely happens, but having more time to do several Pre-Birth Acupuncture treatments helps, with 2 or more being optimal.
The thing that trumps everything would be baby’s position, and this should be figured out asap! Not just head down, but is baby posterior or anterior? If baby is posterior, no amount of Pre-Birth Acupuncture will make you have that baby. If you learn through your birthing preparation courses the mechanics of birth and how our body’s are designed and how baby IF IN THE CORRECT POSITION can quite easily be birthed through the pelvis and birth canal, you well have better insight as to why this Anterior position is preferred and optimal for a natural delivery.
If baby is Anterior, then yes, Pre-birth Acupuncture may assist that natural flow of labour. How does it do this? Simple – it stimulates Oxytocin, here’s how exactly:
- By calming your mind and relaxing your body, this allows Oxytocin to flow. Oxytocin’s inhibitor is Adrenaline. So the more stressed you are, the more adrenaline is in your system, the less oxytocin.
- There are acupoints that specifically are used to promote Oxytocin such as SP6.
- Cervical ripening – helping the cervix thin out and ripen to allow dilation.
- Bub descending into the pelvis as a result of these reactions.
So a calmer you, promotes a calmer birth and an easier labour. For more information you can read this blog post on Labour Induction. If you’re wanting to prepare for birth using the benefits of Acupuncture as soon as possible, you can check out my Gift Certificate or Pre-Birth Acupuncture Package.
If you’re now a mum, I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences with Acupuncture before birth. If you’re Pregnant, I’m equally excited to hear any questions you have about Acupuncture and Birth Preparation.