Acupuncture for Childbirth and Labor by Dr. Randy Martin, OMD
Q – I have heard that Acupuncture can be used to induce labor and to reduce the pain of labor, but I’m so afraid of needles, I’m not sure I can handle even more pain from the acupuncture needles — should I try it?
A – To be quite honest, needles give me the creeps too! I don’t like them either, and I hate blood tests. But the needles used for acupuncture are so tiny that you can even put one in the hole of a regular needle used for injections or blood tests. They are about the size of a strand of hair actually. And you hardly even feel them.
Q – What is your experience in the use of acupuncture during labor?
A – In my experience, it is not uncommon for the entire labor to be extremely quick and easy when acupuncture is used.
Q – How could you ever possibly convince me that I would want to let someone poke LOTS of needles into me?
A – I know that acupuncture seems odd to our Westernized mind, but there is actually a lot of scientific research that supports its use during labor. Many studies show that those little needles increase endorphins, and it’s your endorphins that actually help you to relax. So if you want to calm down and feel a bit more relaxed and less stressed during the whole birthing process, acupuncture is actually the best and safest way to go.
Q – Are there any studies that acupuncture works to help birthing?
A – Yes. There are many such studies. Your labor can be significantly shortened if you use acupuncture while giving birth. One such research study published in “Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation” and reported in Natural Health Magazine stated that out of 120 women, those who received acupuncture treatment during the first stage of labor reduced their labor time from an average of 321 minutes, down to 96 minutes. In other words, the women in this study who received acupuncture reduced their labor by more than one-third!
Q – In your experience, does acupuncture shorten the time for the labor?
A – Yes, definitely. The women who I’ve needled during their labor had their babies very quickly. Everyone was very happy and the doctors were really surprised!
Here is one personal experience: My office got a call from a very pregnant woman who was referred to us by her obstetrician. “Anna” was one week overdue and her doctor was going to induce labor if contractions didn’t start within 10 days. This was Anna’s third pregnancy and the other two had been late as well.
Her doctor had heard of my practice, and me and since another of our mutual patients had experienced great success with acupuncture during her pregnancy and birthing process. So he told Anna to give me a call and try some acupuncture to induce the labor, before resorting to traditional Western methods. He figured that she had nothing to lose by trying.
He was right!!! She came to my office and was very uncomfortable in her body. It was hard for us to find a comfortable position for her acupuncture treatment. We settled for having her sit up on the massage table, propped up by pillows. This worked for her, and also gave me access to all the points on her body that I needed.
We treated Anna three times. Her fourth appointment was scheduled for the day before her doctor was going to induce the labor and delivery, but she didn’t show up. My secretary jokingly said, “Well, she probably went into labor after the last acupuncture treatment and is back at home already with the baby!”
And my secretary was right. When Anna called us a few days latter, she said that contractions began immediately upon leaving the office and continued to get stronger and stronger as the hours went by. A day later she was in the hospital, and the delivery of her baby began shortly thereafter. All was a grand success!
Q – Does Acupuncture Help with Deliver of Breech Babies?
Yes it does. In one study published in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy (Nov-Dec 2003; 18(6):418-21, doctors demonstrated that of the 67 pregnant women studied who had babies in the fetal breech position, those who received acupuncture were far more likely to have the baby move to the proper delivery position. This study showed a difference of 31% in the group that got acupuncture. I have personally had excellent successes with my acupuncture fertility treatment and with turning the baby in the last few weeks and hours before delivery.
Q – Can Acupuncture also help emotionally if I feel depressed and am full of fear?
Yes – Acupuncture is very successful at increasing endorphins, or the body’s own, naturally occurring stress-relievers. Because acupuncture works on the energy of the mom and baby, it not only affects the mom physically, but can also relax her and reduce her stress levels.
It’s really important to keep your body/mind/and spirit balanced during the time of birth, and acupuncture can be your friend and ally during this time.
Dr Randy Martin, OMD, LAc, PhD, QME, MUP, CCH
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Certified Classical Homeopath