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Acupuncture found to shorten labor, manage pain, and reduce inventions in pregnancy!

Lynn Griffith
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In the United States, most midwife-attended births take place in the hospital.  However, 1.4 percent of midwife attended births took place outside of the hospital in 2013.  Out of the 1.4 percent, 64.4 percent were in homes, and 30.2 percent were in birth centers. (1)

This speaks to the growing number of women seeking natural birth options.  Many mothers attend natural birthing classes, read books, work on breathing techniques and do yoga in hopes to help them achieve the natural labor and delivery they are hoping for.  In the future, more and more mothers may be adding needles to their list of natural interventions! (2)

Acupuncture found to help jump-start labor and reduce inductions!

Research is growing around the impact that acupuncture may have on the body during labor and delivery. Acupuncture may be a natural option to help jump-start labor.  One study reported that women who got acupuncture were more likely to go into labor without medical intervention.  The study included 56 women who were 39.5 to 41 weeks pregnant.  Half of the women received acupuncture and half did not.  Seventy percent of the women who had acupuncture went into labor on their own, while only 50 percent of the standard care group went into labor on their own.  Women who received acupuncture were 39 percent less likely to have a cesarean section, compared to 17 percent in the control group. (3)

For many women, they may not hear anything about acupuncture until their due date is reached…and at that point they may receive a recommendation from their midwife or MD.  From the Chinese medicine perspective, the patient may not get the results they hope for in just one session.  In Chinese medicine, the practitioner may believe that the woman’s spleen, kidney and liver energy needs to be strong and balanced.  This could take two weeks of intervention. (2)

For many women, the process of labor and delivery is scary, and the body won’t allow this process to start while the mother is fearful.  She needs to get to a place of comfort and relaxation.(2)

A study completed in 1974 reported that acupuncture reduces the average time a woman spends in labor.  A 2001 study involving 45 women, studied the impact that acupuncture has on cervical ripening.  The authors found that acupuncture helped to ripen the cervix and shortened the time between the due date and delivery date, thereby decreasing inductions. (2)

Acupuncture helps ripen the cervix and shortens the time between due date and delivery date!

A 2006 study involved 14 midwives who recorded acupuncture treatment with 169 women over a four month time period.  They recorded how many weeks gestation the women were once labor began, whether they received an induction, the length of labor, type of pain relief used, and what type of delivery they had.(2)

When compared with women in the same region, they found that there was a 35 percent reduction of inductions for the women who received acupuncture overall.  For first-time pregnant women, this was reduced by 43 percent. There was a 31 percent reduction in epidural rate, 32 percent reduction in caesarean rate, and 9 percent increase in normal vaginal birth.(2)

Study reports that acupuncture reduced induction rate for first time mothers by 43 percent, epidural rate by 31 percent, cesarean rate by 32 percent and increased normal vaginal births by 9 percent!

As a result of the research, more and more pregnant women are encouraged to have acupuncture weekly during the four weeks leading up to birth. (2)

If you are pregnant or are planning a future pregnancy, talk to your midwife about acupuncture, do your research and seek out a conversation with a local qualified acupuncturist!

Sources for this article include:
(1) www.babycenter.com
(2) www.essentialbaby.com.au
(3) www.webmd.com

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Image attributions:
 "Life inside" by Mika Razafimbelo (Featured Image)
Licensed under CC BY 4.0, images may have been modified in some way
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