For most people acupuncture will probably not send you into labor with one treatment the minute you think you are ‘ready’ to have your baby. If this does happen it is likely that your body was getting ready for labor on its own and acupuncture helped to move things along. However, with multiple treatments acupuncture is a beautiful tool to support cervical ripening and encourage a labor that is more coordinated and efficient. For this reason I prefer using the terms ‘Labor Preparation Treatment’ or ‘Pre birth Acupuncture’ for treatments that begin around 36 weeks in pregnancy.
Acupuncture helps with cervical ripening but will not force someone who is not ready to go into labor in most situations. If you are fortunate enough to have time off work to rest prior to labor and are really enjoying that time have no fear! You can still come in for a nice relaxing acupuncture treatment during that time without fear that acupuncture from a skilled practitioner will send you into labor before your body is ready. Acupuncture can also help with optimal fetal positioning by releasing tight hips and ligaments that may be preventing a baby from turning into a more optimal position for labor.
At the same time acupuncture and bodywork can help to relieve pain that a person may be experiencing. A woman may be under quite a bit of stress or anxiety from previous labor experience(s). Pain and stress can inhibit the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps to begin labor. If you’ve been suffering through pain such as hip and pubic related pains you can also find relief through acupuncture.
A series of acupuncture treatments for labor preparation has been shown in research studies to help support a more coordinated and efficient labor. Labor time with acupuncture pre birth treatments also may result in a shorter labor. In some situations preventative acupuncture may also help women reduce medical intervention rates (if unwanted) of epidurals or caesarean sections.
Acupuncture may not be able to start labor immediately with one treatment but it can nudge along the process to support cervical ripening, help with optimal fetal positioning, relieve pain and structural blocks and decrease stress and anxiety. It is a fabulous tool, especially when done in a series of pre birth treatments starting at 36 weeks.