Acupuncture as part of pre-birth care
Many women want to prepare for the birth of their baby towards the end of their pregnancy. The way we can help them to do this is with regular acupuncture treatments. We always need more research but the current studies show that when women receive weekly pre-birth treatments, women:
- Have shorter labours;
- Use less pain relief; and
- Are less likely to require an induction of labour, caesarean section or other medical intervention (1, 2, 3).
The majority of pregnant women would like to attempt a vaginal birth where possible. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the ideal caesarean section rate to be between 10-15%. WHO state that caesarean sections are effective at saving mothers and babies’ lives when performed for a medically indicated reason. When rates are higher than 10% they are not associated with reductions in mortality rates (4). A caesarean section is not the “easy way out” and have both benefits and risks, which should be discussed with your healthcare provider. As with any surgery, a caesarean section requires 6 weeks of recovery. It impacts the health of mother and child both short and long term with implications for future pregnancies (4).
In Australia our caesarean section rate is rising. It was 33% in 2013 compared to 25.4% in 2001 (5). A number of factors have been proposed for this increase including the increasing age of first time mothers. The rate of cesarean sections increases with age, with women over 40 being three times more likely to have a caesarean section. Additionally three quarters of women use some form of pain relief during labour, such as nitrous oxide, opioids or regional anaesthesia (5).
Here at The Fertility & Pregnancy Acupuncture Clinic we see many clients throughout their pregnancies. When they reach 36 weeks gestation, we recommend weekly treatments to help prepare their mind and body for their imminent birth. At this later stage of pregnancy women are often starting to feel tired and uncomfortable, sleep is becoming more difficult and usually they are pretty eager to meet their baby.
Whilst our acupuncture treatments differ with each client, the general idea behind them aims to:
- Soften or ripen the cervix;
- Encourage the baby to settle into a good position for birth;
- Increase energy; and
- Minimise any anxiety or stress they may be experiencing.
It is never to late to start acupuncture for pre-birth and we would love to help you prepare for the birth of your little one.
1. Betts, D & Lennox, S 2006, Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice, Medical Acupuncture, vol.17, no.3, pp. 16-19, viewed 2 July 2017, http://www.familyacupunctureandwellness.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Acupuncture-For-Prebirth-Treatment.pdf
2. Rabl, M, Ahner, R, Bitschnau, M, Zeisler, H & Husslein, P 2001, Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term- a radomised controlled trial, Wien Klin Wochenschr, vol.113, no. 23-23, pp.942-6, viewed 2 July 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11802511
3. Zeisler, H, Rabl, M, Joura, E. A, & Husslein, P, 2000, Prenatal acupuncture and serum prostaglandin E2 levels during the first stage of labor, Geburts Frauenheilk, vol.60, pp.638-640, viewed 2 July 2017, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/245710616_Prenatal_Acupuncture_and_Serum_Prostaglandin_E2_Levels_During_the_First_Stage_of_Labor
4. World Health Organization, 2015, WHO Statement on caesarean section rates. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/161442/1/WHO_RHR_15.02_eng.pdf?ua=1
5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015, Australia’s mothers and babies 2013-in brief, Perinatal statistics series no.31, viewed 2 July 2017, http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129554140