Here at our Village Remedies clinic in Balmain, we use traditional acupuncture to help prepare the body for labour. We can’t force bub to come, but we do try to create the ideal environment for them to do so when they’re ready.
Typically we like to see expecting mothers weekly from 36 weeks onwards, as the effects are accumulative. During this time we’re looking to help prepare the body by reducing stress, improving sleep, regulating digestion and relieving pain. If your body is relaxed, bub will interpret this as the world being a safe place to come into.
When your doctor and/or midwife give the all clear, we start incorporating specific acupuncture points which were traditionally used to encourage labour. These points are deliberately avoided during the main part of pregnancy because of their strong association with bringing on labour.
At full term, we want to do these acupuncture treatments for labour as often as possible, to give you the best chance of going into natural labour. Getting bub to come is like bringing water to boil, we have to have the right heat and time for it. Each time we do the treatment, we’re turning up the heat by stimulating the release of the necessary hormones and relaxing the body. That’s why we recommend treatments as frequently as daily from full term, to give you the best shot at reaching that boiling point before induction is needed. However, it is important to remember that not everyone will go into natural labour, and that is totally okay. Acupuncture treatments are designed to help an efficient labour, whether naturally or medically induced. The health of you and your baby is the primary concern, so make sure you keep all your doctor and midwife appointments.
Acupuncture for Labour Recommendations
As a rough guide, these are the recommendations we make to give us the best chance of helping you initiate a natural labour:
Starting acupuncture around 36 weeks - weekly acupuncture until week 40 (assuming you have no major pain or issues that need more symptomatic relief), then every 2-3 days.
Starting acupuncture around 38 weeks - twice weekly acupuncture until week 40, then every 2-3 days.
Starting acupuncture around week 40 or with an induction date already scheduled - acupuncture as often as daily if possible, or at least every 2-3 days.
We also strongly recommend acupressure for you to continue turning the heat up at home to encourage labour. It can also be a useful tool for reducing pain when labour does begin. Debra Betts is an acupuncturist and midwife from New Zealand who has put together fantastic resources for using acupressure during pregnancy and labour. Please find links to her pdf guides below, along with acupressure point location videos to go along with them.