Acupuncture in Childbirth

Prebirth acupuncture

Prebirth acupuncture refers to a series of treatments in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare for childbirth. It can enhance the prospects of an efficient labour, reducing the level of medical interventions such as induction, forceps deliveries and caesarean sections.

Research (Kubista E, Kucera H, 1974; Zeisler et al. 1998) demonstrated that the mean duration of labour was reduced. A randomised controlled trial into the effects of acupuncture on cervical ripening was published by Rabl (200). Conclusion at He Gu and San Yinjiao supports cervical ripening and can shorten the time interval between the woman’s expected date of delivery and the actual time of delivery.

Breech and posterior positions

I find for women who have acupuncture during pregnancy, the baby tends to settle into the best position "well-flexed anterior position". Combination of acupuncture and moxibustion offers high success rate of turning breech presentation. It involves the application of a moxa stick to Zhi Yin (BL-67) biliterally for 20 minutes, once a day for ten days. Optimum timing of treatment is around 33-34 weeks, before the baby has grown too large.

Research Cardini et al.(1998) publish a trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Conclusion: In primigravidas at 33 weeks gestation with breech presentation, moxibustion treatment for one to two weeks at Zhi Yin increased foetal activity during the treatment period, and cephalic presentation at 35 weeks and at delivery.

Case history

M, 35, second pregnancy with breech presentation confirmed by scan. She was 37 weeks plus 4 days when she came to me. After the initial acupuncture treatment I gave her moxa sticks to complete the course of treatment at home. She said she felt a strong big movement in the evening after the first acupuncture treatment. Two days later saw midwife who was 99.9% sure the baby had turned. It was confirmed by scan the next day, just before she was offered ECV or C-section. She had a natural delivery to a baby girl.

Postnatal Care

Commonly seen problems include perineal pain, postnatal depression, fatigue, insomnia, insufficient lactation, mastitis, infection of the caesarean scar, etc.

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