Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of both preparing women physically and mentally for labour, and as a natural method of stimulating the labour itself.
Treatments usually start three to four weeks prior to full term after getting the all clear from your medical carer. Usually a treatment consists of a standard set of points which can help prepare a woman’s body for birth. The treatment puts emphasis on preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour. In addition, other points can be added according to the individual’s needs. The acupuncturist will ask whether they have been experiencing any other symptoms such as pregnancy induced hypertension, heartburn, sciatic pain or nausea. Emotional well-being during this time is also stressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As often it can be a daunting time for first time mothers. Acupuncture can therefore be used to help calm and relax in preparation for labour.
Inducing labour on the other hand, works by stimulating hormones such as prostaglandins and oxytocin, which are the natural hormones that initiate labour. Those hormones help stimulate uterine contractions and soften the cervix. As a result, it is a much more gentle and natural process than a western induction. From a Chinese Medicine perspective it is a strong treatment that seeks to unblock stagnation of energy that stops the natural process of initiating labour. Points are chosen on the lower back, hands and legs and gentle electro-stimulation is applied.
Research has demonstrated that the mean duration for labour in a group of women giving birth for the first time was reduced from 8 hours and 2 minutes in the control group (70 women) was 6 hours and 36 minutes in the group of 70 women who had received pre-birth acupuncture. It is also claimed that acupuncture can help reduce the rate for medical intervention.
As acupuncture is a safe method of inducing labour it is a great alternative which offers a holistic approach to help initiate your labour.