Pregnancy and Labour
Once you are pregnant, acupuncture still offers many benefits. Acupuncture can help to curb morning sickness and both increase energy and your chances of carrying a baby to full term. Studies have shown that IVF patients receiving acupuncture are more likely to carry to full term and have successful pregnancies. Acupuncture treatments have even been used to turn breech babies!
After welcoming your new baby, Acupuncture can help to alleviate post-partum depression and help you to learn how to take care of your body and balance your new family life.
Acupuncture Treatments for Pre-Birth and Labour
Acupuncture can offer a safe gentle option whilst pregnant. Most pregnant women seek out acupuncture for pregnancy related conditions like morning sickness, back pain, heartburn, carpal tunnel syndrome, drug free treatment of pain or anxiety and breech presentation.
Starting in 1974, research demonstrated that acupuncture once a week, starting at the 36th week of pregnancy, successfully reduced the duration of labour. The average time of labour for first time mothers receiving pre-birth acupuncture was 6 hours and 36 minutes compared to the control groups’ average of 8 hours and 2 minutes (Kubista 1974). Another study showed the average time of labour for those receiving pre-birth acupuncture was some 3 hours and 26 minutes compared to the control groups' labour time of 5 hours and 35 minutes (Tempfer 1998).
In The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth, author and acupuncturist Debra Betts listened to midwives, who reported that pre-birth acupuncture helps soften and dilate the cervix in preparation for childbirth (p143). The midwives in this study believed that pre-birth acupuncture should be offered to all pregnant women as it shortened labour time - specifically active labour - and reduced the rate of hospital interventions, such as medical inductions and caesarean sections (p141). Betts also conducted an observational study in which 169 women received pre-birth acupuncture and were then compared to local population rates. The study found that 35% less of the mothers receiving acupuncture needed an induction of labour and a 31% reduction in epidural rates (Betts 2004).
The British Acupuncture Council leaflet available on this subject. Link
- Betts, Debra (2006). The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. East Sussex, England: The Journal of Chinese Medicine.
- Betts, Debra & Lennox, Sue (2006). Acupuncture for pre-birth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical Acupuncture, 17(3), 17-20
- Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M & Husslein P (1998). Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 46, 22-5
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The contents of this website are for information only and are not intended to be a substitute for taking medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner such as your GP especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any medication. This website is designed to be an information resource for those who are deciding whether or not acupuncture treatment is suitable for them. You will find links to relevant research articles wherever conditions are highlighted. The fact-sheet page contains the latest information and research available from the British Acupuncture Council. Information is continually updated so do check back regularly.