"Labor is the only blind date
where you know you will meet the love of your life."
Debra Betts, a world-renowned acupuncturist with a clinical focus on pregnancy and women’s health, conducted a small observational study with 169 women in 2004 in conjunction with a midwife colleague. In the group of women who received pre-birth acupuncture, there was a 35% overall reduction in the number of induced labours (for first-time mothers there was a 43% reduction), and a 32% reduction in the epidural rate. This reduction occurred regardless of whether the caregiver was a midwife, GP, or specialist. And in the group of women who received mid-wifery only, combined with pre-birth acupuncture, there was a 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births.
It is recommended that you start pre-birth acupuncture during week 36-37 of your pregnancy. Treatment consists of a 30-60 minute weekly acupuncture visit incorporating a combination of preselected acupuncture points that have been noted to have a beneficial effect on birth, and points chosen by your practitioner to address any individual health concerns. Treatment can be enjoyed until the physiological process of birth begins (and is sometimes used during birth for its analgesic effects!).
Acupuncture points are located in or around the feet, ankles, lower legs, and hands, and you will be seated comfortably in order to foster a relaxing treatment for you and your baby.
Pre-birth acupuncture is shown to be beneficial in tonifying the body in preparation for birth. Pre-birth treatments can reduce labour time and epidural rates, promote a reduction in medical interventions, and increase blood flow to the pelvic organs to maximize oxygen, blood, and nutrient delivery.
Aside from promoting a smooth vaginal birth, your acupuncture treatments can also be individually tailored to include points that encourage rotation of a breech-presenting baby, encourage a post-date pregnancy to move forward, and calm the mind to calm any anxieties associated with your upcoming birth (which may be associated with post-date babies).
Many women may be concerned about a risk of inducing an early labour, but pre-birth acupuncture has not been shown to do so. Acupuncture in general has been shown to be safe for mother and baby at all stages of pregnancy when treatment is with a qualified and licensed practitioner who is proficient in point selection and is aware of any contraindications for your specific needs and health status.