This page explains acupuncture treatment to promote natural labour, acupressure for pain relief in childbirth and acupuncture for postnatal care, including breast feeding difficulties.
Acupuncture to promote natural labour
Acupuncture treatment after the due date to balance energy and encourage the spontaneous and natural onset of labour, before a chemical induction. It can be beneficial to have between 1-4 consecutive treatments. Women (and partners) are also taught how to apply acupressure on specific points at home in between treatments to stimulate the body to open and release.
This treatment is particularly helpful for encouraging the hormonal cascades which instigate labour and for promoting the baby’s downward movement in the birth canal. Having acupuncture to support natural labour may also help the body to respond more efficiently and fluently to the stimulus of a hospital induction if this becomes necessary.
The British Acupuncture Council Obstetrics Fact Sheet (PDF) analyses research about acupuncture to promote natural labour.
Acupressure for natural pain relief in childbirth
Acupressure is a practical and non-invasive therapy for use in childbirth which promotes partner involvement and may facilitate a shorter labour with less intervention. Acupressure points can help women prepare for labour, be used as pain relief during labour, assist with after pains and help to establish breast feeding postnatally.
From a western medicine perspective, acupressure points can be viewed as promoting the release of endorphins, blocking pain receptors to the brain, dilating the cervix and increasing the efficiency of contractions.
Acupressure massage can be easily learnt from demonstration.
Women consistently report a reduction in the pain of contractions, an overall sense of calmness and feeling of being more in control. Resulting in a greater degree of emotional satisfaction for both women and their birth partners with their birth experience.
Acupressure like acupuncture “is a technique of initiating, controlling or accelerating physiological functions within the body”
Sarah Budd, midwife, acupuncturist and author (1995)
Further information can be found on the website of Debra Betts, a nurse, acupuncturist and author who taught me obstetric acupuncture:
Acupressure Pain Relief During Labour Booklet Download
Acupressure Point Location Videos
Postnatal care – after childbirth
Acupuncture can be utilised to aid recovery from exhaustion and shock, support scar healing, re-energise women and prevent disharmonies developing during the postnatal period. Breastfeeding is a natural process that can be straightforward for some women but others may find it a difficult and sometimes demoralising experience. Acupuncture can address many of the complications of breastfeeding:
- blocked ducts
- breast pain
- insufficient lactation
- over production of milk
It is important if your breastfeeding is not going smoothly to contact your doula, midwife or obstetrician and seek advice about solving any breastfeeding issues.
The British Acupuncture Council has published a Fact Sheet to give accurate and unbiased information about research evidence and how acupuncture may be beneficial for Postnatal Problems.
Information about acupuncture in pregnancy including nausea and vomiting, inviting a breech baby to turn and preparation for labour is available on the Acupuncture for Pregnancy page of this website.
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