Guest Writer – Kara Canga-Arguelles, LAc
Acupuncture seems to be gaining popularity lately. We see it often recommended for pain and infertility, but many people don’t know that it’s a safe, gentle, and inexpensive way to help induce labor. As a bonus, it may also help the labor move more swiftly and efficiently, and the contractions are often reported as more manageable following acupuncture sessions. Here are some main points to know:
If your OB says induce, and it’s not life threatening that the medical induction be done ASAP, try it using acupuncture instead. It has been used for labor induction for centuries, and studies show that the average number of sessions needed to begin labor is 2. The treatments are done each day until labor commences. Points are selected that act to initiate contractions, to thin and dilate the cervix, and to help allay any fears the mother has that may be holding the labor back (yes, there are acupuncture points indicated for those things)! Most points are located on the arms, feet, ears, and low back. Acupuncture is also very successful if labor has begun, but has faltered, is moving very slowly, or the mother is becoming exhausted.
It’s safe. There are no bad side effects. At the very worst, acupuncture simply will not work, but it does not create harm. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of conventional medical induction. Many families, on the contrary, are not well advised on the risks of labor induction, or on the “cascade of labor interventions” that may ensue, often leading to invasive c-section and a birth nothing close to the birth hoped for. This lack of knowledge can be devastating to the mother who had truly hoped for a labor as natural as possible. Acupuncture can also be safely combined with other methods that you may be trying for inductions, such as intercourse, evening primrose oil, nipple stimulation, etc. It lends itself to the body doing its own job of contracting, equaling a gentle way to bring the baby in.
Some worry that they’ll go into labor immediately following the acupuncture. It RARELY works that way. Usually, the labor begins later in the day of the 2nd or 3rd treatment. For this reason, you may want to find an acupuncturist willing to visit your home, so you can get in the labor “zone.” Women who have been pregnant before usually report the labor after acupuncture as much easier than with previous deliveries.
I had a wise teacher that once said, “If you’re trying to achieve something, always choose the path of least resistance first.” Appropriate words regarding the birth of a baby, perhaps. If you have any reservations about an induction, especially if you’re aiming for a natural birth, acupuncture may help you have it, and with more personal power and ease than you ever could have imagined. Good luck pregnant mothers, and spread the word to all the women you know!