Encouraging Spontaneous Labour
‘To let you know we had our beautiful baby daughter…. I’m just out of hospital and reeling a little from it all and lack of sleep etc – but she is just so worth it. I’m a total convert to acupuncture! Many, many thanks again… You were lovely at a difficult time’.
Acupuncture is able to help promote the onset of labour if you are post term and offers an effective alternative to medical induction. The treatment uses points that have previously been forbidden due to their ability to stimulate uterine contractions and dilate and ripen the cervix. It also encourages the baby to descend into the pelvis and optimal foetal positioning so the baby’s head is pressing properly against the cervix. Acupuncture is also very effective at calming any fears or distress concerning the birth or your baby which are often a reason for delayed labour.
- Naturally stimulates uterine contractions
- Encourages cervical dilation and ripening
- Helps to descend the baby
- Stimulates the hormones that initiate labour
- Reduces the possibility of requiring a medical induction
- Reduces the incidence of medical interventions
- Treats emotional distress
This treatment is also helpful prior to a scheduled medical induction as it can increase the efficiency of the response to the hormonal mediators that are administered.
It is best to begin acupuncture induction treatment 2 or 3 days before a medical induction is planned. It may take the cumulative effects of several treatments to start labour, although many women will go into labour following the 1st. Sometimes contractions may start after the 1st treatment but don’t progress. Following treatments can address this. A combination of clinic and home visits may be recommended.
You (and your partner for best results) will be taught acupressure on the points for you to continue the treatment at home. This increases the effect of the acupuncture and is usually very effective in stimulating labour. If the baby is not in the optimal position, you will also be sent home with press needles and moxa for the days prior to and during childbirth to encourage the descent of the baby’s head and good positioning, plus advice on using positions in labour to encourage a posterior baby to turn.
Please note that this treatment is only offered to women who are post term. Before this time, Pre-Birth acupuncture is recommended to prepare your body optimally so you are less likely to go overdue.
Research on Acupuncture for Labour Induction
Research on the use of acupuncture for women with premature rupture of membranes concluded that ‘acupuncture treatment should be offered to all women with PROM and other women who wish to use this method to facilitate their birth and keep it normal’
Research has shown that acupuncture can shorten the time between the women’s expected due date and time of delivery, averaging 5 days in the acupuncture group and 7.9 days in the control group. The rate of medical inductions required also fell: to 20% of women in the acupuncture group compared to 35% in the control group.
Of 56 women primigravid women at 39 weeks given either normal medical care or medical care plus acupuncture for induction, those in the acupuncture group went into spontaneous labour in a higher number and required less Caesareans.
Gaudernack L, Forbortd S, Hole E. (2007) ‘Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin. A randomised controlled trial. Midires Midwifery Digest. Vol 17, No2
Acupuncture for cervical ripening and labour induction at term – a randomised control trial. 2001. 113 (23-24): 942-6
A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for initiation of labor in nulliparous women. Journal of Maternal Fetal Neonatal Medicine. 2006 Aug;19(8):465-70).