Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Labour

Acupuncture can assist pregnant women in many ways:

• Nausea and ‘morning sickness’
• Fatigue
• Back pain
• Pelvic and ligamental pain
• Depression
• Breech position
• Pre-labour treatments
• Acupuncture induction for ‘overdue’ babies
• Post-natal care

Breech position – in acupuncture, a very simple and safe procedure involving ‘moxibustion’ (a moxa stick applying heat to points on the feet of the pregnant woman) is carried out between 34-36 weeks gestation. Women and their partners can be shown how to apply the moxa at home and use it until they feel the baby turning (anything between 1-10 days). This procedure has a high success rate in turning breech babies.

Pre-birth treatments – from about week 37 of the pregnancy, acupuncture treatments carried out on a weekly basis can help prepare a woman’s body for labour. Treatments are focused on helping the baby to descend into the pelvis, to soften and ripen the cervix and to address any medical conditions such as pregnancy-induced hypertension. Treatments also help the woman to feel calm and more relaxed as she prepares for childbirth.

A German study demonstrated that the mean duration of labour in a group of women giving birth for the first time was reduced from 8 hours 2 minutes in the control group (70 women) to 6 hours 36 minutes in the group of 70 women who had received pre-birth acupuncture.

Midwives in New Zealand comparing 2 groups of pregnant women, one group having acupuncture treatments pre-labour, the other no treatments, reported significantly shorter labour times for the women who received the acupuncture and a reduced rate of medical intervention and caesarean sections. See “The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth” by Debra Betts, The Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2006.

Acupuncture induction – pregnant women are often being booked in for a medical induction a few days passed their “due-date”. If foetal monitoring shows that the baby is fine and the mother-to-be is in good health and wants to try for a natural labour, acupuncture induction is a very safe and often successful way to encourage the start of labour in women who are post term.

Post-natal care. The postnatal period refers to the six weeks directly following childbirth. Acupuncture treatment focuses on nurturing and replenishing, encouraging peace of mind and good amounts of rest and deep sleep between feeds. You are welcome to bring your baby in to the clinic while you are having treatment at this time.

Post-natal acupuncture treatment can help to:
• reenergise and rebuild strength and stamina
• aid deeper sleep and better relaxation
• balance hormones as milk comes in
• relieve “baby blues” and post-natal depression
• address breast feeding problems
• minimise after pains
• regulate temperature swings, especially night sweats
• promote healing of caesarian scars and treat C-section complications
• help carpal tunnel syndrome
• help back, neck and shoulder pain, stiffness or weakness

I have studied and worked closely with the members of the Acupuncture Childbirth Team Brighton & Sussex (ACT Brighton & Sussex) in the UK – a group of acupuncturists sharing a common interest in enhancing fertility, pregnancy and the birth experience for women and their partners using acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Please visit their site to learn more about how acupuncture can help in your particular case: actbrighton.org.uk