Does Acupuncture Really Induce Labor?

The summer has been the top season for birth, so recently, at Oriental Acupuncture Clinic,  more and more pregnant women come for acupuncture for labor preparation. At the same time, we got lots of questions about it. Here's are some of the FAQs about the acupuncture for inducing labor:

 Does Acupuncture Really Induce Labor? 

Acupuncture to induce labor is a subtle but effective treatment option to prepare baby and mom for a safe and smooth delivery . It is also considered as “labor preparation” because it naturally preps the mom and baby for the birthing process by relaxing the nervous system and reducing stress and anxiety, while stimulating hormone release and uterine contractions. Many of the acupuncture points we are unable to use during pregnancy due to their stimulating effects on the body are the exact ones we do use during labor induction. Some of these points are in areas that by this time in the pregnancy are already sore like the upper shoulders and low back. Because it is not a strong medication or harsh manual process, the treatment feels good and is quite relaxing.  The extra boost of rest is important for the energy needed for labor and delivery.

 How Quickly Does It Work? 

Acupuncture works differently for every person and every situation. Sometimes the mom and baby are completely ready to go and just need that one special “push” to get things going. But in most cases, it needs 2-7 treatments in 1 to 2 weeks. The study showed that 70% of the women who received acupuncture went into labor on their own, compared to 50% who received standard care.  The research also showed that using acupuncture to stimulate labor in overdue mothers to be had a success rate of 88%.

Is Induction Acupuncture Safe For Me And The Baby? 

Absolutely,  we always say the worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens. (And by ‘nothing happens’, that’s usually no contractions but a better night’s sleep and less pain and discomfort), compared to the Western methods to induce labor such as manual “breaking of the water,” manual “sweeping” of the membranes around the cervix, and the use of drugs like oxytocin (Pitocin), or hormones such as prostaglandins or relaxin. These drugs are quite effective but can cause very strong contractions and speed up the process before the baby or mom’s body is ready. The use of drugs often leads to a cascade of additional interventions such as epidurals, episiotomy, vacuum delivery or C-section. Side effects from the drugs can include dizziness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. And, the recovery time after C-section and episiotomy is also typically longer than natural births.

Acupuncture for inducing labor, this natural release of hormones creates a gradual onset of labor, often leading to a smoother, less painful, less stressful and faster delivery. 

What If I Have An Existing Medical Condition, e.g. High Blood Pressure Or Gestational Diabetes? 

Every relevant pre-existing medical condition will be asked after in your initial visit and will be represented in the diagnoses, these conditions often respond very well to acupuncture as well, so if there are early signs of such conditions we can help with the management of the symptoms. Acupuncture has been shown to be a very effective complementary medicine often improving the response to the standard medical treatment.

 Is Induction Acupuncture Suitable For Someone Who Has Had A Previous Caesarean?

Yes. If this person is seeking to have a VBAC(Vaginal birth after caesarean )
then acupuncture should form a part of their strategy. Acupuncture can be started at any stage and different Dr’s (CHM) will have different opinions and preferences. As it constitutes a treatment for the scar, it’s better to get the sessions underway earlier rather than later if the option is there! 

Can I do Acupressure At Home?

Yes. There are a few easy-to-get-to and easy-to-remember acupuncture points you or your partner can stimulate to help with the process. Usually pressing 3-5 minutes per point, per side, 2 or 3 times per day.

  1.  Large Intestine 4 (LI4 He Gu 合谷穴): Locate the webbing between your index finger and thumb on one of your hands. You will be focusing on the fleshy area towards the middle of your hand. Use the opposite hand to grab the fleshy part with your thumb and index and squeeze in little pumps for a few minutes. Repeat on opposite hand.
  2.  Gall Bladder 21 (GB21 Jian Jing肩井穴): Locate the area at the top of your shoulders, directly in the middle of your upper trapezius. It’s the area where most people have tension from life and hours at the computer. To get a good amount of pressure, I recommend that the patient sit in a chair where someone can easily stand behind them. The person standing can use an elbow to press down at the top of the shoulder with as much or little pressure that the woman desires. Repeat on the other shoulder.
  3.  Spleen 6 (SP6 San Yin Jiao 三阴交穴): Put your four fingers together so there is no space in between them as if you were waving. Locate your ankle bone on the inside of your ankle, put your pinky on the bone, and SP6 is where your index finger lies on the fleshy part just under your shin bone. Repeat on both sides.
  4. Bladder 67 (BL67 Zhi Yin 至阴穴):This point lies on the little toe, just on the outside aspect of the toenail.Usually acupuncture on this point is contraindicated in pregnant women, but it is a well known empirical point for turning a malpositioned fetus during labour through the use of moxa.
    Need a licensed and experienced acupuncturist for acupuncture for inducing labor , book appointment online at Oriental Acupuncture Clinic or call 416-800-3978 for your appointment. 

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