By Jack Handlin L.Ac., Dipl OM

We are often asked many questions regarding acupuncture, pregnancy and labor. Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy? Can acupuncture help induce labor? Can acupuncture be used to help promote a health labor and delivery?

The answer is yes to all three.

Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?

Although acupuncture has many contraindicated points that should be avoided during pregnancy, a pregnancy acupuncture specialist will know which are safe, and which are best points to use specific to each pregnant patient.

Can Acupuncture Induce Labor?

Yes acupuncture can help initiate labor, but it is important to keep in mind that acupuncture can help do this when the body is ready to go into labor. Many times the body is ready and contractions haven’t started, or contractions are not sustained and progressing. In both of these cases acupuncture can be very beneficial in establishing and maintaining labor contractions.

Can acupuncture be used to help promote a healthy labor and delivery?

Birth can be a time of excitement and nervous emotion in anticipation of the upcoming labor and delivery and the arrival of a newborn baby. Helping the body prepare for this event can greatly increase your chances for a healthy labor and delivery. It is important to consider that it is not necessarily the length of time in labor but the way the mother feels throughout the process that is most important. 

The three main goals of pre-birth acupuncture treatments (a series of 4 treatments starting between 36-7 weeks) are to:

  • Ripen the cervix
  • Help the baby get into the best position for delivery
  • Promote energy and stamina necessary for labor

Research has shown acupuncture treatments prior to birth can also help to decrease the need for interventions (medication, induction) during the labor process, help to decrease the chances of an emergency cesarean, and help to promote a healthy vaginal birth.

With many of our pregnant patients that received acupuncture treatments prior to birth or preparing for labor, labor induction acupuncture treatments are not needed and the body initiates labor on its own.

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