A normal full term pregnancy can be between 38 and 42 weeks. Generally speaking, in the western medical world, 7-10 days past the 40 week due date is when induction is recommended in case of complications. In China, they do not have concerns until about 14 days past the 40 week mark.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are commonly used to induce labour.
Western research already back in 2001 showed that acupuncture can shorten the expected delivery date and other research has demonstrated that specific acupuncture points can bring on uterine contractions.
There are thousands of acupuncturists in the western world who treat women to induce labour everyday.
Most of these patients are self-referred from other mothers who have had acupuncture in the past and believed it was of benefit to them to help bring on the birth. This is a good example of women’s intuition at its best!
Andrew Orr a well known TCM practitioner and researcher in Queensland has researched the benefits of acupuncture in its role for promoting induction. He worked in with a group of midwives at The Birthing Centre at Royal Brisbane Hospital and found that there is a 88% success rate with 1-3 acupuncture sessions. Andrew said
“Individualised diagnosis of the mother and appropriate selected acupuncture points specific to the needs of the patient will improve outcomes. There will never be just one acupuncture point for everyone across the board. I don’t encourage acupuncture induction to early unless recommended by the midwife or obstetrician because of medical complications . 7-10 days past the 40 week due date is when I like to start acupuncture induction”
Acupuncturists like Debbie Karl of Mount Maunganui have specialised in pregnancy care and using acupuncture to induce labour is just a normal part of her everyday practise. There are in fact a number of members of Acupuncture NZ who predominantly see pregnancy related health matters and specialise in women’s health care. These practitioners include Serena Joe of Wellington, Lisa Houghton of Auckland and Angie Harding of Christchurch. You don’t have to wear a skirt though, to be able to treat women with acupuncture for induction, as Kim Chenery of Hastings and myself in Napier both get regular referrals from midwives in the Hawkes Bay area.
Andrew Orr also says that “Although acupuncture induction is not 100% effective, it is far less confronting for the mothers to be than medical induction”
In addition to acupuncture, the related technique of moxibustion can also be used, in particular on acupuncture points on the low back. The process helps increase blood circulation to the uterus as according to Chinese medicine theory, one cause of delayed birth is from inhibited blood flow to the uterus.
Acupuncture can also address many emotional issues such as depression, anxiety and irritability which are sometimes encountered by the pregnant mum.