‘Every month has an average of 30 days…except for the last month of pregnancy, which has about 30 000’.
Moms approaching their due date know all too well the challenge of waiting for baby to arrive. Every pang in your stomach or ache in your back feels like the one that will start the labour process. You may also find yourself anxious, wondering if you’ll be able to stick to your birth plan and if more interventions will be necessary. Pregnancy acupuncture can help with that!
In order for labour to progress, a few changes need to occur:
- The cervix (the lower end of the uterus) will need to dilate and efface. This means that it must thin and widen in order to allow the baby to fit through.
- Baby should also be in the best position, which is seen when baby is upside-down and faces the back of mom. Your doctors will call this ‘occiput anterior’.
- For mom, less interventions become necessary if labour is able to begin spontaneously, without the need for induction. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the research to see how acupuncture can help move things along.
How can Naturopathic care help?
Naturopathic medicine offers a wide variety of natural labour prep—some best to begin early in the 2nd trimester, others more helpful as your due date approaches. Pregnancy Acupuncture is one of my favourite ways to help women feel their best, and the research behind this ancient form of medicine is rapidly growing.
Benefits of Acupuncture:
Pregnancy Acupuncture (to induce labour can):
- help to soften the cervix
- promote the baby to get into the best position
- improve pain (and what mom doesn’t want help with that?!)
- help turn a breech baby.
Breech births (where baby come out feet first) are rare (3-4%) but almost always result in a c-section. Acupuncture and other Chinese medicine techniques can help to turn a breech baby. In fact, a large study found that acupuncture can reduce the need for a c-section in breech presentation by more than 15%. The best time to start acupuncture for this is around 32-37 weeks—when your doctor or midwife begins to note baby’s position. Even when baby is in the best position, acupuncture can help avoid a c-section.
Acupuncture has been found to increase the likelihood of labouring spontaneously by 20%. Starting labour without induction improves mom’s chances of not needing any other interventions. This same study also found that receiving acupuncture dramatically lowered your chances of needing a c-section—by 22%!
Now, pain management interventions and c-sections are of course incredibly life-saving and we’re lucky to live in a country that allows us access to them. However, mom’s recovery can be far easier with less interventions. Acupuncture can be an incredibly gentle and effective tool to improve your labour experience.