So, here we are, 9 months down the track. Everything has been going according to plan and we are ready for the beautiful new arrival. Bags are packed, nerves are high strung, the due date comes, then goes… Hang on, where’s the baby?
It may not be something that many expectant parents think about, but sometimes baby doesn’t come on time. Sometimes baby needs some encouragement. In this case acupuncture to induce labour may help. It’s a drug free, low-risk, non-invasive method of labour induction that some women prefer to the options available through western medicine.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the process of labour is when the mother and foetus change their state of energy from resting, sedate, nourishing, nurturing, conjoined (seen as very yin energies) to one of dynamic, active, moving and separating (seen as very yang). This normally occurs as labour begins, but if the pregnancy has gone past term, acupuncture can help to initiate this change.
Like most acupuncture treatments, the session will involve asking questions. These may include questions about general health, but also questions about how the pregnancy has progressed, whether you’re experiencing braxton-hicks contractions, or if the baby’s head has already engaged in the pelvis. The acupuncturist will also feel your pulse and look at your tongue. An acupuncturist will never perform an internal examination.
Commonly used points for acupuncture to induce labour are usually on the wrists, the ankles, and your sacrum (the lowest part of your spine). Other points may be used for individual cases – you’ve already had a chat and mentioned your sore back, right?
Some patients experience feelings of tightness or contractions during treatment. The contractions may continue for some time post-treatment. Baby almost always has a big wriggle during the treatment. Sometimes further treatments may be required although this is not always the case.
It is difficult to establish a concrete time scale for when labour may occur, however in my experience labour will usually begin 8-10 hours post treatment.
Considering the possibility of requiring multiple treatments, and also the opportunity to treat other symptoms of late stage pregnancy (remember that sore back?), I usually recommend that treatments begin around week 36 of pregnancy. However, it is very common for people to contact me after the due date – but don’t worry, it’s still ok to administer the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture to induce labour is a low-risk alternative to western medical methods of labour induction when performed by a professional, registered acupuncturist.