Acupuncture has been used to assist the birthing process for many centuries. In fact in China, the treatment of women’s diseases was a specialist area within Chinese medicine and text books in this specialist field date back to 1200 AD. It has been well documented and researched in the west that acupuncture can treat morning sickness, susceptibility to miscarriage and even breech baby position. Acupuncture is also of benefit to prepare the mum for the actual birth and treatment for this is best started in the 36th week. In particular, research has shown that a course of acupuncture performed during the month before the due date can even reduce the overdue delivery time. Women also come to The Acupuncture Clinic – Hastings in the last month of pregnancy to help treat their anxiety and stress leading up to birth.
There are many reasons why some women could have difficulties with their child’s birth, such as a long delivery time. For instance, if the mum to be is deficient in energy and does not have ample blood according to Chinese medical diagnosis, she could run out of steam so to say and therefore not have enough strength to push the baby out. Other times, the mum may have a pattern of disharmony which the ancient Chinese physicians observed as stuck energy. When the energy is stuck, women can get very impatient and irritable during the birthing process. It is no wonder that so many women get talked into having a caesarian when their energy is so stuck. Ironically, traditional Chinese medicine theory states that windy weather in particular increases the susceptibility for the liver energy to become stuck and Windy Wellington has the highest incidence of caesarian birth in all of New Zealand.
Hence in the month leading up to the due birth date, qualified and experienced traditionally trained acupuncturists such as Members of Acupuncture NZ can treat the future mum’s individual pattern of disharmony and help address constitutional weaknesses as well. From a modern clinical perspective, the pre-birth acupuncture increases blood flow to the pelvic organs and maximizes oxygen and nutrient supply.
Researcher Debra Betts from Wellington, found in her 2004 study that acupuncture had a number of benefits to help the mum to be. This included:
- 32% fewer epidurals
- 43% reduction in the number of chemical inductions
- 32% reduction of emergency caesarian deliveries
- 9% increase in the number of normal vaginal births
Acupuncture is used to help promote a natural delivery and reduce the need for medical intervention. Some acupuncture points like Stomach 36 (zusanli) are needled weekly in the month leading up to the due date as this point has been known to increase energy and stamina during the birthing process. Another commonly used acupuncture point is Gall Bladder 34 (yang ling quan) which has a specific benefit to the pelvis ligaments loosening them up in preparation for birth.
Many women now are being recommended by their midwives to have a course of weekly acupuncture treatments 1 month before the due date to reduce medical intervention and enjoy a more natural birth. Debbie Karl of Mount Maunganui who specializes in pre-birth acupuncture believes that there is growing positive trend that more mums to be are now opting for a natural birth and acupuncture is a great way to help this.