Acupuncture labour preparation treatments are so much more than just trying to start contractions!
We group our last trimester pregnancy treatments in two stages – 1. before; and 2. after your due date (or medically planned induction/cesarean section).
Before your Due Date
Our focus is not to “induce” your baby, but prepare you by creating the best possible environment for your baby to want to come. From 36 weeks, we will start to use acupuncture points to facilitate muscle and tendon relaxation, soften the cervix (1), and relax the mind. We also look to address any issues that are specific to you and your pregnancy. These may include pelvic pain, indigestion, constipation, back pain, insomnia etc.
After your Due Date
Once you have reached your due date, or if you have a medical induction pending in coming days, we continue with the above focus but with an increased intensity. You will be asked to come in for at least a couple of treatments within a couple of days. Sometimes more treatments are needed, sometimes the baby arrives shortly after… We don’t like to promise anything but we do feel confident that almost all of the mums-to-be leave saying that they feel more prepared, relaxed and have often found a new love of acupuncture!
What to expect?
We pride ourselves in making you as relaxed and as comfortable as possible. Stress makes for tight muscles and a tense cervix is not ideal if you are trying to go into labour. Our treatment rooms are designed to help you rest and relax. We have ALL the pregnancy pillows to get you comfortable, gentle calming music and you’ll love the smell of our clary sage oil blend filling the room. We will also show you some helpful acupressure points to continue your treatment at home.
What’s the scientific evidence?
We are never going to be one of those clinics that tells you “we have a X % success rate in inducing your baby naturally.
The evidence to support acupuncture for the induction of labour is unclear and as discussed, we don’t like to make any guarantees. In 2017, a Cochrane paper (1) was published following the review of 22 randomised controlled trials and although there was not enough evidence to say that acupuncture can reduce caesarean sections (compared to usual care), it did conclude that acupuncture showed benefit in improving cervical maturity. This study also included improvement to Bishop scores in using acupuncture to prepare for labour.
When should I come?
You can have acupuncture at any stage of your pregnancy. Specifically for labour preparation, we recommend at least weekly acupuncture from 36 weeks – ideally four treatments leading up to your due date.
As always, we are happy to meet you at any stage and often meet clients much closer (or over) their due dates. We work with your birth team and your birth plan. As we get closer to your due date, this can often mean, moving appointments at last minute to work around appointments with your midwife or OB, timing with a “stretch and sweep” and our favourite reason for cancellation – your baby has arrived!
1. Smith CA, Armour M, Dahlen HG. Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD002962. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002962.