Pregnancy and Labour


Pregnancy and BirthOn this page:

Pregnancy Related Conditions

Acupuncture during pregnancy is a safe, natural and supportive therapy to maintain maternal and foetal wellbeing. It is effective drug-free alternative to pain relief medication, steroids, antidepressants and antihistamines. Treatment is tailored to your specific needs at any given time. Weekly or bi-weekly treatments (depending on severity) are effective for relieving/managing common concerns:

  • Threatened miscarriage/bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Heartburn/reflux
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Sinusitis
  • Constipation/hemorrhoids/diarrhea
  • Acne/skin rashes/itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Back/hip/pelvic pain, sciatica
  • Breech and posterior position babies (ideally starting at week 34)

Acupuncture in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy may be useful to reduce anxiety and induce relaxation. Research has shown that for women with a history of recurrent miscarriage, regular monitoring and stress reduction treatment in the first 12 weeks increased live birth rates, 86% in the treated group, compared to 33% for non-treated women.

Aust NZ J Obstet Gynecol 1991 Nov;31(4):320-2

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Preparing For Labour

A labour preparation program helps to ready the body for the most natural delivery possible. Weekly acupuncture treatment in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy helps to prepare women for the most efficient labour possible by:

  • Increasing blood flow to the uterus
  • Softening and ripening the cervix for dilation
  • Relaxing ligaments and tendons for birth
  • Reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation and calming the mind

A study from 2004 concluded that the mean labour time was reduced for women who received acupuncture for labour preparation:

  • 59% of women having their first labour delivered within 10hrs (average = 9hrs)
  • 60.5% of women who had given birth previously, delivered within 5hrs (average = 4.7hrs)

Other therapeutic benefits of pre-labour acupuncture include a reduction in the need for medical intervention during labour, and therefore minimizing associated risks and complications by promoting a natural birth:

    • 35% reduction in medical labour induction procedures (43% for women having their first birth)
    • 31% decrease in epidural rates
    • 32% lower emergency cesearian delivery
    • 9% increase in normal vaginal birth
    • There was no increase in the onset of early labour in women who received prebirth acupuncture
      (Betts D and Lennox S, Med Acup 2006, 17, (3) 16 – 19)

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Acupressure During Labour

Included as part of our 4-week labour preparation treatments is a session on acupressure that can be applied by your birthing partner during labour. The demonstrated pressure points stimulate uterine contractions to promote efficient labour, provide pain relief and enhance relaxation. Including your partner in the birthing process means they can assist in a supportive and practical role during labour, while empowering you both to experience the most natural birth possible. Included in the session is a guide for the correct pressure to use, pressure point location and a reference sheet.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD009232

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Labour Induction

Acupuncture can be used to encourage the start of labour for women who are past their due date, scheduled for a medical induction or have premature membrane rupture. For greatest benefit treatments typically commence after your due date over three consecutive days, however effect can take up to 5 days post treatment. If you have a scheduled induction date, acupuncture can be applied earlier to help get the labour process started.

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