When it comes to labor induction with Acupuncture, I am all for it from a couple of different perspectives. As a Denver acupuncturist, it is simply part of the medical model that I embrace in both life and in career choice. But as a mother, I can tell you first hand that it actually works.
Let’s get straight to the facts. How can needles help the body to start labor? From a medical perspective, acupuncture works by interacting with our nervous systems. The nervous system is basically the control center of the body, and by stimulating a specific set of acupuncture points, we can send a message via the nervous system to the uterus to promote contractions. If contractions have already begun but are not regular or powerful, we can help them to become more efficient.
Acupuncture also has a powerful effect on cervical dilation and ripening, helping it to become softer and then to dilate more efficiently.
So what techniques are used?
There are several techniques that work, including needling therapy (acupuncture), direct pressure on acupuncture points (acupressure), and electronic stimulation. To induce labor, we use a set of points that stimulate the uterus. These points will help establish contractions and promote dilation of the cervix. A low frequency electronic stimulation can be added to the acupuncture needles to deliver consistent stimulation, thus enhancing the overall treatment.
Who should consider natural labor induction with acupuncture?
A good candidate is any woman who is very close to their estimated due date, or even post-date. You can start inducing labor a week before your due date, or any day past 40 weeks. If you are scheduled for labor induction at the hospital, but would prefer to start labor naturally, you can come in for labor induction with acupuncture 3 days before your appointment for a session. You will be instructed on how to practice acupressure at home on your own and with your partner to increase your opportunity for a successful natural induction.
For controlling pain during labor, acupressure is a more viable technique as it allows the woman freedom to move through several positions or use a water bath if she chooses while still receiving treatment from a partner. Firm and direct pressure is required by the partner, and it will take a little practice and communication between the partners to locate the points accurately and then apply them effectively when the time comes. The points work by releasing endorphins (neurotransmitters that make us feel good), and block pain receptors located in the brain to lessen the overall perception of actual pain.
Which points are to be used will be determined by what stage of labor the body is in and also by what feels most correct to the woman during labor. During the early stages, many of the points will calm the nervous system and lessen any anxiety. They will release endorphins to ease pain, and promote cervical softening and dilation. In later stages, the points will again help to ease pain during contractions, and help the baby to descend into the correct position for delivery.
As a personal testimonial in the case with the birth of my son, I initiated labor induction with acupuncture at my home home 4 days prior to my due date. After 2 consecutive sessions, received over the course of 2 days, labor had begun. I continued to use acupuncture and acupressure throughout labor. The labor, of course, was still hard work, but using the acupressure points made a huge difference in the intensity of the contractions. After only 16 hours and 4 or 5 pushes, we had our baby boy. I attribute the short duration and overall success of my labor with a first child to acupuncture and acupressure; and I highly recommend it for labor induction as well.
If you or someone you know is pregnant and thinking of doing labor induction with acupuncture in Denver, please send them my way!