I have had really great success treating pregnant women and helping them to get into labor “on-time”. In this litigious day and age very few women are allowed to carry past 41 weeks. Unfortunately, babies do not always agree with this time line which, leads to anxious moms thinking about pitocin, cervadil or a scheduled section date. Stressed out moms make for tight muscles and a tense cervix which, is less than optimal if you are trying to go into labor.
I have had the fortune of working with a lot of pregnant women and have had great success with a pre-labor protocol that was created by Debra Betts, a renowned midwife and acupuncturist from New Zealand. I have noticed that most of the women who have gotten the pre-labor treatment go into labor “on time” usually by 40-41weeks, and have had relatively short, unmedicated labors. First time mothers may go past 40 weeks but in my practice have never (save one who elected to do so) been induced medically.
The treatment commences at about 36-37 weeks gestation and ends at the onset of labor. Treatment consists of a core group of acu-points that help facilitate muscle relaxation, a softening of the cervix and relaxation for the mind. During treatment I also addresses acute and constitutional issues that may be affecting the woman. This could be reflux, insomnia, back pain etc…
A recent study showed a 35% reduction in the number of inductions, (for first-time mothers this was a 43% reduction) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate. When compared to a local midwifery practice (with no acupuncture) there was 32 % reduction in emergency Cesarean Sections and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births. Read the full study: http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/aama_marf/journal/vol17_3/article_2.html
Post Date Labor Induction:
This treatment is a bit stronger than the aforementioned treatment. In this case I use points that help drop the baby deeper into the pelvis, relax the ligaments, calm the mind and stimulate the uterus to contract. This treatment is very safe and women often report feeling very relaxed. Often a treatment or two post-date will help tip the scale, so to speak, and get a steady labor going.
If labor has started but isn’t getting into a smooth pattern then acupuncture is extremely effective to get things moving. Prodromal labor can last for at least a week and can be exceedingly tiring on the mother. Acupuncture is a great way to create a proper rhythm (often by helping turn a posterior baby).
Acupuncture can also be used during labor to help facilitate optimal fetal positioning and pain relief. I find acupressure just as effective unless labor has stalled in which case acupuncture is tantamount.