Pregnancy Acupuncture Treatments

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Having a baby is not only a physical process but also an immensely emotional and spiritual journey, acupuncture may assist alleviating anxiety and stress. This treatment complements the care you may also be receiving from your Obstetrician/GP/Midwife/prescribed medication.

In this world of modern research, anecdotal evidence (based on someone’s personal experience) is viewed by science minded individuals as inferior to scientific evidence (proof based on findings from systematic observation & measurement), the two seen as distinctly different from each other. Thanks to the Acupuncture Evidence Project we can say that there is moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture in:

  • Acute low back pain
  • Anxiety
  • Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Depression (with antidepressants)
  • Hypertension (with medication)
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Labor pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic pelvic pain syndrome

* Please also see Acupuncture Treatments

Although with the profusion of new research being conducted and released around the world, things may change tomorrow, however at this point in history we can say there is either weak positive or unclear evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture in:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Induction of labor
  • Itch
  • Melasma
  • Postnatal depression
  • Urinary incontinence

Reference: The Acupuncture Evidence Project – A Comparative Literature Review 2017

The Australian College of Midwives notes on their website that acupuncture has been in practice for over 2000 years and ‘there is growing evidence-based research and increased popularity among consumers. Acupuncture is provided to women by a midwife in countries such as England, Germany, Scandinavia and New Zealand.’ They elucidate by explaining that needling in the perinatal period can enhance the provision of high quality, safe, midwifery care because it provides women with choice and also an option of a natural intervention that may assist some of the common discomforts of pregnancy, for example; malpresentation, anxiety and fear, the need for medical induction, and post-partum haemorrhage, to name just a few.

Please bring your hospital card with you to your Acupuncture appointments.
This enables us to keep up to date with your recent western medical checks.

Pre-birth preparation and cervical ripening

We suggest weekly acupuncture from 35-36 weeks. Try not to leave it to the eleventh hour to arrive on our doorstep! These treatments are directed toward assisting cervical ripening, preparing you/your baby for an efficient and stress free labor.

Acupuncture for pre-birth treatment appears to provide some promising therapeutic benefits in assisting women to have a normal vaginal birth.

Reference: Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study Of Its Use In Midwifery Practice

There are indications that acupuncture may positively influence cervical ripening and can shorten the time interval between the EDC and the actual time of delivery.

Reference: Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term -a randomized controlled trial

Electroacupuncture can be used to obtain cervical ripening, with similar results as compared with misoprostol, with a significantly higher frequency of vaginal deliveries and without occurrence of obstetric complications.

Reference: Electroacupuncture for cervical ripening prior to labor induction: a randomized clinical trial

Acupressure to reduce labor pain

There are indications that acupressure may reduce the duration of labor especially during the first stage. We are very happy to teach you/your partner upon request, acupressure techniques to assist leading up to and during your birth.

Inducing Overdue Labor

It may be that having experienced an uncomplicated pregnancy you prefer you and your baby to experience a natural vaginal delivery and hope to avoid going too overdue in an endeavor to steer clear of hospital imposed time frames or conventional medical induction and the cascade of the interventions that can follow. Or you may be planning a vaginal birth after caesarian (VBAC). By the way, here is an evidence-based, unbiased discussion of the risks and benefits of both VBAC and repeat cesarean that is written in a straightforward, helpful way please see Power to Push – VBAC Info Booklet.

If induction of labor is to happen as a result of acupuncture, your body needs to be ripe and ready plus we want your bub to be in a good position. This is why at HOFH we suggest coming weekly from 35-36 weeks to begin preparation. In most cases preparatory treatment enables labor to proceed naturally with little or no need for any form of intervention. If you/your cervix/bub are not ready, chances are it will be difficult to assist promoting labor with acupuncture. In this case possibly more than one acupuncture treatment may be required, depending upon readiness. When scheduling your appointments please bear this in mind as you may prefer to come in at least a few days prior to a scheduled medical induction.

Although the definitive role of acupuncture in inducing labor is still yet to be established via scientific research, the existing studies suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial in labor induction.

Breech babies

Spanish research conducted between 2008-2010 on 492 participants came to the conclusion that “Moxibustion at acupuncture point BL67 is effective and safe to correct non-vertex presentation when used between 33 and 35 weeks of gestation. We believe that moxibustion represents a treatment option that should be considered to achieve version of the non-vertex fetus.”

More recent literature research on all the research into using moxibustion to correct breech presentation reveals other papers which did not have the same findings as the above so in scientific circles the overall evidence is regarded as “mixed”.

The use of moxibustion applied to the little toe for difficult labor was first mentioned in the Moxibustion Methods for Emergencies by Wenren Qinian in 1226. In Chinese hospitals this technique has been used to treat breech presentations for decades, however the research to date, although promising, is not yet sufficient for this method to be incorporated into clinical practice guidelines for obstetricians in Australia, although the New Zealand clinical practice guidelines do recommend it. Consult your midwife/obstetrician to discuss whether or not this ancient technique might be useful for you.

Most babies will correct their own position independently, however if you decide to use our services we suggest coming in between 34 to 36 weeks, closer to 34 weeks particularly if bub has been in the wrong position for an extended period of time already. This is a very comfortable procedure. Patients will be directed towards specific daily home moxibustion therapy to facilitate the process.

Also, here is some more food for thought from 2010: Cost-effectiveness of breech version by acupuncture-type interventions on BL 67, including moxibustion, for women with a breech foetus at 33 weeks gestation: a modelling approach.