Can Acupuncture help stimulate natural labor? This is a newer application of Acupuncture for the Western World and is beginning to gain some recognition, but it is not new in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Thousands of years ago, Eastern Medicine Doctors had to have ways of stimulating labor in women who either did not spontaneously go into labor, when labor stalled or when labor was not strong enough to successfully deliver the baby. Several Acupuncture points are talked about in the literature as being effective for inducing labor or strengthening contractions. (These points are forbidden during pregnancy, with the exception of stimulating labor).
From a Western Medical standpoint, these points work in the body in different ways, but together they are able to stimulate labor. Some cause strong uterine contractions by stimulating the natural production of Oxytocin. Some stimulate dilation of the cervix by increase the natural production of prostaglandins, and some directly affect the sacral plexus to stimulate uterine contractions.
From an Eastern Medical standpoint, these points increase blood flow to the uterus, increase uterine contractions, and are descending and moving.
Acupuncture for Labor Induction is best used when the patient has reached 40 weeks gestation and has a healthy pregnancy with no complications.
There are several factors that determine the success of the treatments. These include dilation of the cervix, effacement, gestation, and station of the baby. There is no progression recipe that will tell whether the treatments will work or not because everyone responds differently to treatments. A mother may not be ripened, the baby not engaged, but the Uterus responds quickly to treatments.
The use of this technique goes beyond just inducing labor in healthy women, who have not gone into spontaneous labor. It can be applied to women who have had a rupture of membranes without the start of labor, women who are in labor but experience weakening, stalling, or irregular contractions.
Although Acupuncture for the induction of labor is safe, with no side effects, or additional risks of natural childbirth complications, there are some cases where is it not applicable. This includes CPD (Cephalopelvic disproportion) or obstructed labor, severe pre-eclampsia, kidney disease, pre-existing heart conditions, diabetes, bleeding during pregnancy, or previous cesarean delivery.