Acupuncture for Labor Induction
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
How does acupuncture work to induce labor?
• Increases prostaglandins to soften the cervix
• Increases oxytocin to trigger contractions
What are other benefits to acupuncture for my pregnancy?
• Increases endorphins that promote relaxation and decrease body aches and pains
• Promotes deep sleep
• Regulates cortisol to ease stress and tension
When should I start treatments?
In healthy pregnant women, labor induction acupuncture is best starting at weeks 38-40.
How quickly does it work?
Every woman and situation is different. Sometimes one acupuncture treatment is enough to induce labor which can begin within 24-48 hours of the visit. Other times it can take 2-5 treatments within a one to two week period. In the event that acupuncture does not induce labor, women report that the treatments helped them relax and prepare physically and mentally for labor.
Are there any research studies?
One small study at the University of North Carolina found that women who got acupuncture were more likely to go into labor without a medical "push." The study included 56 women who were 39.5 to 41 weeks pregnant. (Forty weeks is full term.) Half of the women got three acupuncture sessions, while the other half did not. Seventy percent of the women who got acupuncture went into labor on their own, compared to 50% who received standard care. The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean section -- 39% compared to 17%.
"We had almost a 50% reduction in the C-section rate," says researcher Terry Harper, MD. Harper, who now practices maternal fetal medicine in Albuquerque, says the small size of her study means more research is needed. She hopes acupuncture might one day help more women give birth vaginally.
-Source: Can Labor Be Induced Naturally?
What else can I do in conjunction with acupuncture?
You or your partner can do acupressure at home 1-2 times per day for about 2-3 minutes per point. Apply firm but gentle pressure on the following points on both sides of the body:
Large Intestine 4 (LI-4): Locate the web between your index finger and thumb on one of your hands. Use the opposite hand to grab the muscular part with your thumb and index fingers, and squeeze.
Gall Bladder 21 (GB-21): Locate the area at the top of your shoulders. Have your partner use an elbow to press down at the top of the shoulder with as much or little pressure that is tolerable.
Spleen 6 (SP-6): Put your four fingers together so there is no space in between them. Locate the inside of your ankle bone, and put your pinky on the bone. This point is located where your index finger lies on the muscular part just below your shin bone.
Nicole Peterson, LAc, MAcOM is a licensed acupuncturist in Ashland, Oregon. She loves sharing her passion for natural approaches to health through her online blog and at her clinic, Ashland Family Acupuncture. Contact us for an appointment or free consultation. 541-631-9649