Acupuncture labour induction


Babies tend to be born on their own schedules.   They don’t have any awareness of their “due date” and can come “late” for a variety of reasons.  For many women, as they get closer to their due date, the idea of medical labour induction can often be introduced because many doctors may not allow pregnancies to extend past 42 or even 40 weeks in some cases, even if the pregnancy is otherwise healthy.  This can be a stressful discussion, which can increase muscle tension, tighten the cervix and increase the blood pressure, which can make a medically assisted labour induction even more likely.

More and more women are becoming aware of natural alternatives to medical interventions during pregnancy and may feel nervous about the idea of a medical induction either with medications or by other means.  A pre-labor acupuncture protocol can be followed to decrease the chance of needing a medical induction.

Beginning at 36-37 weeks and continuing weekly until labour starts, this gentle acupuncture protocol gradually eases the body into a state where it  is ready for labour.  Acupuncture has been shown in numerous studies to encourage cervical ripening, increase blood flow, facilitate muscle relaxation and calm the mind.

A pre-labour acupuncture protocol can not only help women decrease their chances of needing medical inductions, but can also decrease the chance of a need for pain medication during labour. To read the studies click here and here and here.

In some cases, herbal formulas may also be used to prepare the body for labour.  I have successfully used my 6 week herbal labour tea over the years, for many women.  This tea can greatly enhance the effects of the acupuncture treatments.  Drinking the tea daily can help a woman to receive daily therapy from me, without having to come to my office.

You may have heard of acupuncture “labour inductions” and may be wondering if this is the same thing.  It is actually quite different.  There are excellent acupuncture point combinations which can be used to actually stimulate contractions of the uterus – a similar effect to using medications like Pitocin.  Although an acupuncture induction can be useful in a situation where a woman is truly overdue or in need of induction out of medical necessity, I tend to advise a woman to take a preventative approach to her care by using the Labour Prep protocol beginning at week 36-37.  The benefit to the Labour Prep protocol is that it gently eases the body toward going into labour on its own, as opposed to simply stimulating uterine contractions.  Studies comparing the two approaches have shown better labour and birth outcomes in women who use the labour prep protocol as opposed to simply inducing.  This study can be read here.

If you are concerned about preterm labour, it can be noted that in the above study, there was no statistical difference in the onset of early labour in the group who received pre labour acupuncture in comparison to the control group.

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Michelle Kapler
Michelle Kapler
When I’m not working, you can find me knitting socks, writing for my blog, eating oysters that my husband has lovingly shucked, creating and co-creating meals for loved ones or hanging out with my Herbal Medicine Textbooks and and a very specifically pulled espresso.
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