First of all, it’s important to know that not everyone will go into natural labour and that is totally okay. Even if medical induction is needed, we still want to help promote an efficient labour. The health of you and the baby is the primary priority, so make sure you keep your appointments with your doctor or midwife.
The idea of acupuncture for labour induction is that we can’t force baby to come, instead we try to create the ideal environment for them to want to come by relaxing the mind and preparing the body for childbirth.
Ideally, we recommend at least weekly acupuncture from 36 weeks to allow time for a gradual build up of the necessary hormones for labour (such as oxytocin), and to keep the mother feeling as comfortable and well rested as possible. After the due date at 40 weeks, treatment can be as frequent as every 2-3 days to give us the best chance of avoiding the need for medical induction.
Acupuncture Labour Induction At Village Remedies
We will first ask you about the pregnancy - how many weeks you are, what position the baby is in, what your doctor or midwife has said, and if there are any other symptoms such as pain, sleeplessness, digestive upset, etc. We always want to treat you as a whole person, because if you’re feeling more relaxed and comfortable, baby is more likely to interpret that as the environment is safe to come into.
Next we’ll get you in a comfortable position, either on your side or seated and check in with things like depth of breathing (a good sign that baby is descending is if you find it easier to breathe) and tension in hips and lower back (it is normal at this stage of pregnancy to be experiencing tension or pain, but we want to help you feel more comfortable in those areas).
We’ll then start with the acupuncture treatment, using points on your feet, legs, arms and hands mostly. If you are around your due date or beyond, we will also include electro-acupuncture in the back (where we connect points to a minor electrical current if comfortable). It’s normal to feel dull, heavy, achy sensations at the points (or a gentle tapping sensation for the electro-acupuncture), but everything is done within your comfort levels. An important part of the treatment is that you feel relaxed and comfortable.
You then get to rest, while your practitioner periodically comes back to check on you and restimulate points.
Throughout the whole process we’ll explain what we’re doing and the theory behind it, so that you know what’s going on. Questions are encouraged.
It’s normal to feel baby start moving around more, and some may experience braxton-hicks contractions on the table.
Acupressure points will also be taught for you to continue at home. Although not as strong as acupuncture stimulation, massaging key points can help continue the process at home, giving you the best chance for a natural labour or efficient induction process.
Depending on how close you are to your due date or an induction date, your practitioner will make a recommendation of follow up appointments. Typically you can expect the following recommendations:
1. Starting acupuncture around 36 weeks - weekly until week 40 (assuming you have no major pain or issues that need more symptomatic relief), then every 2-3 days.
2. Starting acupuncture around 38 weeks - twice weekly until week 40, then every 2-3 days.
3. Starting acupuncture around week 40 or with an induction date already scheduled - as often as daily if possible, or at least every 2-3 days.
Acupressure For Labour Induction
For those who can’t make it in to see us or another acupuncturist, or who would like to compliment your acupuncture treatments, acupressure can be learned at home to help promote labour and even for pain relief during labour. Debra Betts is a midwife and acupuncturist based in New Zealand who has created fantastic resources for how expecting mothers can use acupressure to help promote labour and relieve pain during labour. Please find links to her pdf guides below, along with acupressure point location videos to go along with them.