Acupuncture is an integral component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a wholistic system of healthcare continually practiced and developed throughout Asia for many thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine has developed specialised treatment for women in promoting fertility, pregnancy care and postpartum recovery. Today TCM care is become increasingly valued in Australia, as it is in New Zealand, England, Germany and France where acupuncture is available in specialised antenatal clinics and maternity hospitals.
Pregnancy, child birth and postnatal recovery are viewed in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a window of opportunity to enhance and support the woman’s wellbeing. Conversely if adequate care is not taken the resulting problems may continue long after birth. Value is therefore placed on offering preventive care to strengthen the mother and baby as well as dealing with problems as they occur during pregnancy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a safe, effective alternative for treatment of pain and discomfort during pregnancy and a great alternative to western medicine drugs. Moreover, it provides an excellent compliment to midwifery, doula, and obstetrical care.
TCM effectively treats
- Morning sickness,
- Musculoskeletal conditions such as sore hip
- Threatened Miscarriage
- Morning sickness
- Musculoskeletal pain (back, sciatica etc)
- Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
- Stress and anxiety
- Breech and Posterior presentation
- Labour preparation – Pre Birth Treatment
- Labour induction
- Pain relief during labour
- Post Partum Care
Pre-Birth treatment involves a series of four treatments weekly from 36 or 37 weeks to prepare for labour. Points are used according a woman’s constitution and pregnancy history.
These include points to
- Cervical ripening
- Promote optimal energy and stamina for labour
- Help to shorten duration of labour
- Reduce the rate of caesarean sections and need for interventions
- Reduce the need for pain medications or epidurals
- Greater satisfaction with birth experience
- Boost energy and help with pain relief
Induction of Labour
Acupuncture can provide a gentle inducement of labour when the baby is overdue. It can be an effective alternative to Syntocinon drip or prostaglandin gel induction. Acupuncture encourages the body to release hormones such as oxytocin and prostaglandins that instigate labour as well as encouraging the baby downward in the birth canal.
Many mothers find this treatment very relaxing, feeling calmer, more relaxed and have a more efficient labour. One or more treatments are usually required. As with the pre-birth treatment if you do not go into labour, you will respond well to medical induction.
Pain Relief and Support in Labour
Acupuncture offers drug free alternatives for pain relief during labour.
Acupuncture in Labour can help with:
- Promoting efficient contractions
- Encourage baby into optimal positioning
- Aiding cervical ripening and dilatation
- Pain relief
- Promote endorphin release (primal state) rather that adrenaline release (fear state)
- Smoothing the transition between the 1st and 2nd stage of labour
- To promote delivery of a retained placenta
A Brazilian group has shown that electro-acupuncture (EA) can be used to promote labour as efficiently as the prostaglandin analogue misoprostol which is used to induce labour and cervical priming, but with fewer complications. 67% of woman… in labour were randomised to receive either EA or misoprostol. Woman who received EA experienced significantly fewer obsetric complications along with higher frequency of vaginal deliveries. This was taken from Arch Gynecol Obstet 2011: Electro- Acupuncture for cervial ripening prior to labour induction.