In October 2017, an updated Cochrane review was released, addressing the question “Is acupuncture or acupressure useful in inducing labour”. The answer is “Sorta”.
The evidence shows that acupuncture can help the cervix to change within 24 hours. And, if electrical stimulation is used on the needles, it can induce enough changes to reduce the c-section rates. However, it did not seem to reduce the incidence of medical intervention for labour and delivery. Bummer.
However, research is only as good as the question it asks. The investigations that have been done to see if acupuncture helps to prepare for labour and birth have shown more encouraging outcomes. In one observational study, acupuncture was applied in a similar way to how we apply it in clinic. That is, slightly different points were used based on what was happening with the cervix, the position of the baby and the pregnancy dates (ie individualized care). In that study there was an overall reduction in inductions (35%), and a reduction in epidural rates (31%). Prebirth acupuncture appears to help more people have normal, vaginal deliveries.
It is almost always true, when we look at the usefulness of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture in relation to fertility, pregnancy and reproductive health, that it shows the biggest impact when it is used as preventive medicine. In this case, instead of waiting until past the due date to start acupuncture, using acupuncture to prepare for labour starting at 36 weeks seems to have the most benefit.
There are a number of ways that acupuncture can be used during pregnancy to help with the “common discomforts” of pregnancy as well as to prepare for labour and delivery. Acupuncture is effective and safe through your entire pregnancy and can be used for:
- “Morning” sickness
- Threatened miscarriage
- Back and pelvic pain
- Fatigue and depression
- High blood pressure
- Swelling and edema
- Gestational Diabetes
- Breech position
- Labour preparation
You are not on your own once your baby is born! Acupuncture and TCM can be used to help restore your health and vitality postpartum. It’s useful for milk supply, mastitis, back, neck and hip pain, haemorrhoids, c-section healing and general recovery.