Acupuncture for labour induction


Acupuncture for labour induction

A lot of pregnant women first visit an acupuncture clinic because they have heard from their specialist or a friend that it will help them with back pain, relaxation or birth induction. But mostly they visit because they are seeking support for natural birthing options and acupuncture is recommended to prepare for the labour that they may be hoping for. And this is for good reason, because acupuncture can help mothers to be in several ways:

Reducing labour time with acupuncture

From week 36 a weekly visit to your acupuncturist is recommended to prepare for birth. This gives you a few weeks to work with your acupuncturist toward a natural labour that avoids escalation of hospital interventions.

Because every woman and every pregnancy experience is different, and because acupuncture is such an individualised holistic medicine, treatments are different for each mother to be.

After assessing your tongue and pulse, your acupuncturist may support you by addressing fatigue, musculoskeletal pains or digestive sluggishness to increase your stamina and strength.

We may work with you to decrease any anxieties or stressors that are coming up for you. This can involve important and frank conversations about what options women have surrounding their birth, and/ or treatment with acupuncture to relax you.

In 2006 an observational study was published in the Medical Acupuncture Journal. It involved the meta-analysis of the recordings of 14 midwives who worked with 169 women over a four-month period. It concluded that the women who received acupuncture were 39% less likely to have a caesarean section, compared to 17% in the control group.

For a more in-depth discussion of acupuncture reducing labour time, read this fantastic research article by accomplished midwife and acupuncturist – Debra Betts.

Inducing labour with acupuncture

Babies will usually trigger labour themselves when the time is right. However, we often use acupuncture to help encourage labour.  This is mostly to avoid hospital inductions, or the need for further invasive interventions.

Acupuncture is proven to influence cervical ripening [1] and this results in a higher frequency of vaginal deliveries and decreased labour complications.  One study [2] also showed that acupuncture reduces the duration of the first stage of labour.

Another study [3] showed a randomised group of women receiving acupuncture every second day from their due date going in to labour on an average of 5 days following treatment. The control group went into labour on average of 7.9 days after their due dates.

Acupuncture can help with pain and discomfort

Most women will “put up with” bodily pains during pregnancy. This can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks or get enough sleep, which in turn can create potential difficulties in birth.

Pregnancy brings significant changes in centre of balance, increase in fluid production as well as the increase of relaxin circulating throughout the body. Because of this it is easy for women to find themselves in pain. In clinic, we frequently see:

  • Back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain
  • Pelvic pain or pelvic instability
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Acupuncture has been shown to provide relief for back pain in pregnant women. A recent study compared pain experiences of pregnant women receiving acupuncture compared to women using medication [4]. It showed that over 8 weeks, 78% women receiving acupuncture reported significant pain relief. This is compared to 15% of the women taking pain medication.

How wonderful to have a drug-free option that performs even better than the drugs!

Would you like to try Acupuncture for your best possible birth? Simply contact us on 9486 5966 or click here to book online. Mention this article to receive $20 off your initial consult for a limited time only!


Article written by:

Dr Heather Dowall

Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncturist 

Dr  Heather Dowall is a warm, intuitive and enthusiastic practitioner. Heather graduated from Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Health Science degree majoring in Acupuncture.

Heather is passionate about fertility and pregnancy support, pain relief, cancer support, and providing relief for anyone experiencing anxiety, depression, emotional trauma or PTSD.

Click here to book an appointment with Heather.



[1] Electroacupuncture for cervical ripening  prior  to  labor  induction:  a  randomized   clinical  trial.   Arch  Gynecol  Obstet.  2011   Jun;283(6):1233‑8

[2] Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5

[3] 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

[4] Guerreiro da Silva JB1, Nakamura MU, Cordeiro JA, Kulay L Jr. Acupuncture for low back pain in pregnancy–a prospective, quasi-randomised, controlled study. Acupunct Med. 2004 Jun; 22(2):60-7.



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