In addition to practitioners providing care in private practice, Maternity Acupuncture is being offered in hospital antenatal clinics and birthing units worldwide, such as the Whittington hospital in London (UK), The MotherBaby Centre in Minnesota (USA), the Midwife Lead Unit at the Warrington and Halton Hospital (UK), Obstetric outpatient clinics in Austria and Italy and here in New Zealand at the Hutt Valley Hospital
Our registered practitioners are all experienced in treating woman through all stages of pregnancy, preparation for labour and during labour itself.
Acupuncture can be used from the 36th or 37thth week of pregnancy to support woman as they prepare both emotionally and physically for birth. Our practitioners are very experienced in providing acupuncture treatments for birth preparation.
We are starting to see some great research showing what birth preparation acupuncture therapy can achieve for women. The following review was published in 2020.
“An NHS maternity acupuncture service providing birth preparation acupuncture has assessed its routine hospital maternity annual data from 2014 to 2016 to see what effect it had on labour and delivery outcomes
The data from this service was analysed and women who had birth preparation acupuncture were compared with those who did not receive it. Maternal age, parity and socio-economic status were considered confounders and were adjusted for in the analysis.”1
They found the following
- Women who received acupuncture had more normal births (less surgical births).
- Women who received acupuncture required less intrapartum analgesia (pain relief during labour and birth).
- Women who received acupuncture required fewer components of an induction of labour.
- Women who received acupuncture had a reduced length of a hospital stay.
- Women reported that they highly valued the availability of acupuncture within the maternity service
1 A. U. Lokugamage, V. A. I. Eftime, D. Porter, T. Ahillan & S. X. Ke (2020) Birth preparation acupuncture for normalising birth: An analysis of NHS service routine data and proof of concept, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, DOI: 10.1080/01443615.2019.1694878
Help if you are overdue or when a medical induction is planned
Acupuncture can be used to help support women to establish spontaneous labour if you are overdue. Our practitioners are very experienced in working with women who are overdue or when a medical induction is planned. We always make sure your LMC is on board with using this approach alongside any advice they are giving you.
Whilst research has not always shown consistent results, we do have some promising findings from recent studies.
In a 2018 study, conducted by an Obstetrics Department in an Italian hospital, researchers compared acupuncture versus standard care in women who were overdue, at 40 weeks and 2 days (40 +2). In both groups if women hadn’t gone into spontaneous labour by 41 weeks plus 5 days, (41 +5), a medical induction was offered.
They found that in the group of women who had acupuncture applied every other day starting from 40 + 2 up to 41 +4 (41 weeks and 4 days) experienced a higher rate of spontaneous onset of labour and as a consequence there was a significantly lower rate of medical induction required in this group as compared to the standard care group
When they looked at those from both groups who did go on to need a medical induction, they found there was not difference regarding prostaglandins used for induction but that the oxytocin infusion rate needed was lower in the women in the acupuncture group versus the standard care group.
Neri I, Pignatti L, Fontanesi F, Facchinetti F. Acupuncture in Postdate Pregnancy Management. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2018;11(5):332–336. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2018.06.001
In the latest Cochrane review (2017), researchers assessed evidence comparing acupuncture or acupressure with placebo or other labour induction methods. The results showed that acupuncture may help prepare pregnant women for labour by increasing the readiness of the cervix. Recommendations for further research was given, in order to determine if acupuncture therapy can decrease the need for medical inductions.
The article “Research shows acupuncture may help prepare pregnant women for labour” is published by the NICM Health Research Institute and is available here.
The whole paper “Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour” is published in the Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews and is available here.