A lot of pregnant patients arrive at acupuncture due to a referral from a mid-wife, obstetrician or a recommendation from a friend. They have a vague idea that it will help with back pain, relaxation or birth induction. But mostly it’s another check in the box of what expectant mothers should do before the baby arrives. Here is a brief explanation of why acupuncture is recommended to prepare for childbirth.
Acupuncture aims to reduce labour time
Acupuncture is recommended weekly from Week 36 to prepare for birth. The aim is for an efficient, natural labour that avoids escalation of hospital interventions.
Each woman and each pregnancy is different and treatments are tailored for each case.
To provide women with the strength and stamina to get through child-birth, we address fatigue, musculoskeletal pains and metabolic issues.
To encourage a positive and calm approach, we help to remove stress and anxieties. We want mothers to walk out with all their muscles relaxed. This work is mostly achieved with acupuncture needles, but can also involve discussion of potential and realistic options that women face at childbirth.
One study in 1998 showed that acupuncture from 36 weeks reduced the duration of the first stage of labour. The acupuncture group showed a median duration of labour of 196 minutes, while the control group had a median duration of 321 minutes.
For a more in-depth discussion of acupuncture reducing labour time, read this fantastic research article by accomplished mid-wife and acupuncturist – Debra Betts.
Acupuncture is used to induce labour
Generally speaking, mum and baby will induce labour when it’s time for labour.
However, we see a number of acupuncture inductions in clinic, mostly it is used to avoid hospital inductions, or the need for further invasive interventions.
An interesting study on acupuncture used for labour induction showed significant effect on cervical ripening. One randomised group of women receiving acupuncture every second day from their due date, went into labour on an average of 5 days afterwards. The control group went into labour on average of 7.9 days after due date.
Acupuncture can help with pain and discomfort
Most women will try to endure pain during pregnancy. However, it can be severely disruptive, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks or get enough sleep.
Pregnancy brings significant changes in centre of balance, increase in fluid production as well as the increase of relaxin circulating throughout the body. It is easy for women to find themselves in pain. In clinic, we frequently see:
- Back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain
- Pelvic pain
- Carpal tunnel
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 conventional treatment (pain medication). 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!
f you’d like to try Acupuncture for your labour induction. Contact us on 9486 5966 or click here to book online.
Article written by:
Dr Christine Lee
Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist
Dr Christine Lee has been practising as an acupuncturist and a Chinese herbalist since 2008. She graduated RMIT with a double degree in Applied Science (Chinese Medicine and Human Biology) and has completed further studies and a hospital internship in Nanjing, China.
Christine has extensive experience working in acupuncture general practice. She has worked with a broad range of patients: from children to seniors, from athletes to people with severe disability or complex chronic illnesses. She has special interest in treating women’s health, senior’s health, digestion, mental health and pain conditions.
 Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5
 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
 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.