Pre-labour Acupuncture Treatments


When is the best time to have Pre-Labour Acupuncture treatment? And what are the
You may have heard of the term ‘Pre-Labour Acupuncture’ or ‘Acupuncture Induction’ from your midwife, a friend or even a family member talking about the results and experience they had with treatment to support and induce labour. So what does this treatment actually entail? And is there any research or evidence to back these claims? There is a common misconception that women will come in for a one off ‘Acupuncture Induction’ treatment at 40 weeks and spontaneous labour will be guaranteed. Although, you may have of a friend of a friend who had this experience and there is no doubt that there is some clinical evidence, the therapeutic benefit of Acupuncture as a pre-labour treatment comes from the cumulative effect of weekly Acupuncture treatments from 36 weeks. It is from this date of 36 weeks gestation, that we begin to use more stimulating Acupuncture points to relax the muscles and sinews, soften and ripen the cervix, calm the Central Nervous System and begin to prepare the body for the most efficient labour. In combination, we will discuss lifestyle and diet advice to begin to incorporate into your daily practices. We will then continue Acupuncture treatment until your due date, and discuss more frequent biweekly treatments if you go over. In clinical practice, in which pre-labour/ pre-birth Acupuncture treatment is used from 36 weeks, evidence shows when compared to the local population rates, there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions (For primigravida women, this was a 43% reduction); 31%
reduction in the epidural rate, 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery; and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births (Betts & Lennox, 2006), with these positive results. Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective treatment for women seeking natural labour.

So how does the treatment differ to other Acupuncture treatments throughout
Throughout pregnancy, your Acupuncturist will be aware of contraindicated points and will avoid these areas. These specific points have a stimulating action and from a Chinese Medicine perspective will strongly move Qi and Blood through the channels and the uterus. Throughout pregnancy we want to support a nutritive and protective environment in the uterus where all nutrients and oxygen is directed to your developing baby. So Acupuncture points are minimal and treatment is focused on tonification and calming the mind and body. Comparatively, pre-labour Acupuncture treatments from 36 weeks are focussed on beginning to stimulate adequate flow of Qi and blood through the uterus. The contraindicated points that were avoided throughout pregnancy will now be safely used, by your registered Acupuncturist. These specific points will aid cervical dilation, relax and soften the ligaments prior to labour, support the descending action of the baby into the pelvis, calm the mind and prepare the body for the most efficient labour.

Will this treatment affect my baby?
A common question I am asked during a consultation is, ‘will this treatment hurt/ affect my baby?’. Put simply, Acupuncture performed by a registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner will be safe for you and your baby. Acupuncture is a safe alternative for women seeking natural pregnancy and labour support. For peace of mind, when booking in with a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, ensure they have further training and experience in treating Women’s Health and Pregnancy.

What if my baby is breeched?
If your baby is in the breech position, first and foremost it is important to check in with your care provider what your options are. Tools and techniques to encourage your baby to move into the optimal position of cephalic, have been shown to work best when your baby is at 34/35 weeks gestation as they have more room in the uterus to flip. Acupuncture and Moxa treatment is beneficial for turning breeched babies, however this treatment does differ from Pre-labour/ Pre-birth treatment. The focus is on turning the baby, rather than encouraging the baby to move into the pelvis for labour preparation.

For the best results and outcome from pre-labour/ pre-birth Acupuncture treatments, I recommend chatting to your registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner about booking in weekly appointments from 36 weeks gestation.

By Georgia Payten

TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist at The Pagoda Tree.


Betts, D. and Lennox, S. (2006). Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study
of its use in Midwifery Practice. Journal of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture,
17(3), pp.16–19.

April 20th, 2023|

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