For centuries, acupuncture has been used for promoting natural labor. The philosophy of Chinese Medicine is not forcing childbirth to happen before the woman’s body and/or the baby is ready, but based on encouraging labor to happen naturally by promoting the energy flow within the mother’s body and especially in the uterus.

Getting labor started by artificial means is called induction of labor and is at times necessary due to health concerns of the mother or baby. Western medicine commonly use drugs like oxytocin, commonly called Pitocin or hormones such as relaxin or prostaglandins to help speed labor along.

Questions about Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Have there been any studies done on acupuncture and labor induction?

Though more studies are being conducted on the subject, the University of North Carolina did a study finding that pregnant women receiving acupuncture treatments were more likely to go into a natural labor without medical assistance.

The study involved 56 women who were between 39.5 to 41 weeks pregnant.

Half of the women in the study received three acupuncture sessions, while the others didn’t receive any treatment. The study showed that 70-percent of the women receiving acupuncture went into labor without any assistance, compared to 50-percent who didn’t receive acupuncture sessions.

The women receiving acupuncture sessions were less likely to require a C-section delivery, with only 39-percent requiring one. However, only 17-percent of the women who didn’t receive acupuncture didn’t require a C-section.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture helps balance the body’s energy by targeting specific areas of the body that help to naturally prepare it for labor, which includes prostaglandins, which soften or ripen the cervix and oxytocin that assists in triggering contractions. By naturally releasing hormones, the onset of labor is gradual, which most often leads to a smoother delivery with reduced pain and stress.

Is acupuncture treatment safe for the baby and myself?

Yes! Acupuncture is a gentle technique and has been used for centuries with a long track record of safety and efficacy

When should I start receiving acupuncture treatments?

The best way to approach a natural labor is to have pre-labor sessions beginning no sooner than six weeks and up to the expected due date encompassing two to three weekly sessions.

Is induction acupuncture suitable if I’ve had a previous caesarean?

If you are seeking to have a VBAC and not another caesarean then acupuncture sessions can often help shorten the time of labor and strengthen contractions.

Are sessions safe if I have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes?

When you have your initial visit all health concerns and conditions are addressed. Most of these conditions respond very well to acupuncture sessions. In fact, acupuncture has shown to be complimentary and helps in improving a positive response when combined with standard medical practices.

What can I expect from a session and is it safe for my belly?

A thorough history and evaluation is performed on the initial visits. Based on the doctors findings small needles are place in various points along your arms legs torso and ears which are usually left in place for about 30-minutes. Acupuncture treatments are typically applied with the mother laying down to ensure the mothers relaxation and comfort.

After treatment what can I expect and will I need to rest?

What you do after a treatment session depends on your level of energy. Some may need to rest, while others do gentle exercise. Due to your relaxed state, you may notice more movement in the baby or an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions.

How fast can I expect induction to work?

Remember, the philosophy of Chinese Medicine isn’t to force anything and to help things along naturally. Inducing by acupuncture isn’t about “forcing” childbirth to happen but to encourage labor to happen naturally. Sessions can help release an energy blockage that’s preventing the onset of a natural labor. It can take your body up to 24-hours to respond to a change.

Can acupuncture sessions help me after having the baby?

Acupuncture is very helpful in post-labor recovery and assists in speeding up recovery by strengthening your body and helps recover energy. It also helps with specific problems such as a low milk supply, let down of milk, mastitis, and hemorrhoids

If you have more questions, please feel free to set up a free consultation with Dr. Betty Stasinos here at Active Health.