By Lisa Davicioni, R.Ac.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective way to naturally support the birthing process and when used in pre-birth treatments, it significantly lowers induction rates, epidural rates, and shortens the labour period.
By stimulating acupoints on the mother’s body, the natural birthing hormones of placental oestrogens, prostaglandins, and relaxin initiate labour. Pre-birth treatments start at week 36 and focus on ripening the cervix, and treating anything else that might influence the birthing process. Acupuncturists and other medical professionals, midwives, and doulas are aware that many to-be moms can feel anxious and fearful about their upcoming childbirth process. Acupuncture treatments focus on calming the nervous system, relaxing the mind, improving sleep, reducing indigestion, and discomfort so that the mother-to-be is in the best possible state to start the journey of motherhood.
Acupuncture is a great natural option when a labour induction is required; such as being over your due date, or having gestational diabetes, rupturing of membranes (your water breaks) without contractions or being GBS positive – GBS is a common bacteria found in about 25% of the population and women who test positive will need to be induced within 24 hours of their water breaking.
Traditional medical inductions bypass the body’s natural hormonal system, which doesn’t give the body enough time to adjust and regulate pain. Acupuncture relaxes and releases endorphins which help the body manage pain, relax, and soften the cervix so that contractions are smooth and effective – resulting in shorter labour times. Studies report that among women that undergo regular Acupuncture prenatal treatments, there is a drop in medical intervention with 32% lower cesarean rates, 31% lower requests for epidurals and medical induction, and a general increase in natural and vaginal deliveries. These women feel a boost of energy leading to a faster and efficient delivery without feeling too exhausted to continue, thus avoiding further medical intervention.
In natural childbirth, the body prepares for the delivery by dilating the cervix to accommodate the baby’s head and body. Acupuncture supports this process by ripening the cervix; relaxing and bringing more blood flow into the area. Without this natural dilation, the use of clamps and cutting of the perineum might be necessary. Ouch!
Contrary to Western thinking, Traditional Chinese Medicine supports nature’s timing as to when labour commences. Did you know that it is the baby’s hormones that initiate labour? If your baby is not ready, then labour will not begin with acupuncture. And that is a good thing, respecting your baby’s process is key to having a smooth childbirth and limit fetal stress.
Regular prenatal Acupuncture treatments have been shown to have long term positive results for new mothers. A study¹ followed up patients in the post-natal period and found approximately three-quarters of women were free of pain 3 weeks after delivery and 99% 12 weeks after.
Preparing for childbirth can be a nervous and worrisome time for mothers to be. Acupuncture can smooth the process by ripening the cervix for delivery, relaxing and boosting energy of the mother, and naturally inducing labour. By respecting nature’s timing, Acupuncture is an organic and powerful aid to one of nature’s most miraculous phenomena – childbirth.
About the author
Lisa Davicioni, a Registered Acupuncturist, has been inducing women into labour with acupuncture for almost 15 years and has successfully induced close to a thousand women. She loves the process of birth and being there alongside to support during this time can empower a woman and help facilitate a truly positive birth experience.
Find out more about Acupuncture and labour induction:
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1 – Elden H, Ladfors L, Olsen MF, Ostgaard H-C and Hagberg H Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercises as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised single blind controlled trial. British Medical Journal. 2005; 330:761-765