Auckland Acupuncture Article Series:Prebirth acupuncture refers to a series of treatments in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare women for childbirth. Research shows that weekly acupuncture treatments starting at 36 weeks can reduce labour times by 1 ½ hours and reduce the incidence of medical interventions, such as medical inductions, caesarean sections and episiotomies.
The study conducted in Germany demonstrated that the mean duration of labour in a group of women giving birth for the first time was reduced from 8 hours and 2 minutes in the control group (70 women) to 6 hours and 36 minutes in the group of 70 women who had received prebirth acupuncture. Midwives report that acupuncture noticeably helps the cervix to soften and dilate prior to labour commencing, a desirable outcome and one that is a positive indicator for an efficient labour.
Acupuncture is an ideal method to help women prepare themselves to have the most efficient labour possible.
Western Medical Information
In preparation for birth, a woman’s doctor or midwife will usually recommend weekly visits when the gestational age of 36-37 weeks has been reached. During these visits the foetus is checked to detect its position and heartbeat. Monitoring is carried out for gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia.
‘Minor’ discomforts that women may be experiencing around this time, and which are considered normal by western medicine practitoners, include heartburn, constipation, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, leg cramps, bleeding gums, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, backache, swelling of the hands and feet, difficultly sleeping, and increased anxiety and tiredness. It is also considered normal for the women to have profuse transparent leucorrhoea and to experience frequent urination as the baby drops and places further pressure on her bladder.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Viewpoint
TCM has a long history of advocating that women modify their lifestyle throughout pregnancy to ensure healthy babies and efficient births. Many of the above ‘minor’ discomforts are not viewed as such and treatment is aimed at alleviating many of these symptoms. A balance of physical activity and rest, suitable diet and maintaining a calm emotional state is recommended. Acupuncture treatment is focused on regulating a woman’s qi and blood, regulating the 5 emotions and ensuring there is organ harmony (“if the qi is correct and if the blood is circulating well labour is described as harmonious”)
Part Two will look at this in more detail, talk about Acupressure during labour and give my recommendations on books etc.
Acupuncture Auckland: Acupuncture Studio
Create the labour experience you want. If you would like to discuss prebirth acupuncture, please contact me at Aucupuncture Studio at Pt Chevalier, Auckland city.