Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Pre-labor acupuncture

Acupuncture in Pre-birth treatments

The most efficient, effective and non-invasive way to use acupuncture to help with delivery is to have acupuncture treatments before giving birth. In a study by Debra Betts and S. Lennox, printed in Medical Acupuncture2006 May 17(3):17-20 and titled: Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice, these results were found:

Acupuncture in pre birth treatment refers to receiving a series of treatments in the final weeks of pregnancy, which prepare women for childbirth. Research has shown that pre-birth Acupuncture can assist you in:

  • shortening the length of your labor
  • achieving 3-4 cm cervical dilation before going into labor
  • shortening the time of the first stage of your labor
  • reducing the chance that you may need to have your labor induced by 35% (43% for first births)
  • increasing your opportunity for cervical ripening before going into labor
  • reducing your chances of emergency caesarean by 32%

Research shows that the use of acupuncture from the 37th week of gestation until delivery can significantly improve the experience of labor and childbirth. Points are used to ripen the cervix, to promote optimal energy and stamina for the mother, and to help position the baby in the best position for labor.

In considering using acupuncture to aid in readying a woman for delivery, stimulating contractions is not enough. It is best to help women thru natural birth by ripening the cervix. This is not just about the cervix opening up. Sometimes women have a hard cervix. It is important that the effacement of the cervix thins out and thin down. When it’s thins, it softens and it opens up. If the cervix is 3-4 cm dilated before going into labor, the mother’s body is better prepared, relaxed, open and ready to give birth naturally.

Posterior Position

Positioning is also important as that will help with ripening the cervix. It is important that the baby’s chin is tucked down. This is a flexed head. When the head is not in a position of being flexed, this is a deflexed head. In this position, the head is 2cm larger for going through the birth canal. This is the posterior position, which creates complications in childbirth.

Top 5 Tips for Childbirth

  1. Have pre-birth acupuncture – Acupuncture once a week from your 37th week till birth will help to prepare you for childbirth. . Research has shown that pre-birth acupuncture offers reduced time spent in labor, and reduced rate of medical intervention. Acupuncture is a great way to help women prepare themselves for  the most efficient labour physically and emotionally It can help the woman’s body prepare for birth, preparing the cervix and pelvis for labor It can deal with medical conditions such as pregnancy induced hypertension, heartburn and hemorrhoid. Pre birth acupuncture reduces intervention rates such as epidurals, caesareans and syntocinon. It also reduces the time spent in labor.
  2. Diet – Avoid spicy, pungent and greasy foods in later stages of pregnancy. These can produce more mucus.
  3. Go to http://acupressure.rhizome.net.nz and download a great booklet on acupressure for stress and pain relief during labor.
  4. Practice Squatting, kneeling, sitting, walking, standing and leaning positions for labour.
  5. Consider using acupuncture to aid with birth, when birthing with a midwife, for pain relief.

For more information on which way your baby is turned, go to: Spinningbabies.com

For a brochure called ‘why induction’ go to: www.aims.org.uk

For more information on the research referred to in this article and for a download of the acupressure points which are most useful for childbirth, go to http://acupressure.rhizome.net.nz, click on Pain Relief in Childbirth. Go to the right column for  information and click on download the booklet.

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