Acupuncture, and related branches of Chinese Medicine, have an important role in helping from conception through to child-birth. In this post I’d like to mention a little-known aspect of acupuncture that can be of great benefit in the pre-natal period.
The term ‘pre-birth treatment’ refers to a series of acupuncture treatments in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare women for childbirth. Although still not widely practiced in the UK, this is a popular form of treatment in other countries, and in Germany it is routine in all hospitals where acupuncture is practiced.
Research has demonstrated that pre-birth acupuncture treatment reduces the average time spent in labour, and feedback from midwives also suggests a reduced rate of medical interventions.
A recent study in New Zealand looking at prebirth acupuncture found a 35% reduction in induction rates, 31% reduction in epidurals, 32% reduction in emergency caesarean sections and 9% increase in normal vaginal birth compared to the general population.
Another study (in J Acupunct Meridian Stud 2018) found that women who received acupuncture at term (from 40 weeks) experienced a higher rate of spontaneous natural delivery (75% versus 52.8%) and a lower rate of operative delivery (6.3% v 11.4%)
The treatment is focused on preparing the woman’s body for birth, with an emphasis on preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour, and strengthening the mother’s energy. It is a way of working with nature to ensure that the pregnant woman is in the best state possible at the time labour begins, to increase the chances of everything going smoothly and avoiding unwanted medical interventions.
Additionally, the treatment can address other symptoms that arise, such as heartburn, haemorrhoids, anxiety etc.
Ideally, treatment is given once a week from 37 or 38 weeks until delivery.
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