Published on 10-08-2015
Acupuncture, which needs to be done by a properly trained and licensed acupuncturist, can help promote labor and ease labor delivery pain (it is also useful for a range of issues during pregnancy). But in most cases acupuncturists do not do home visits, nor will they come to the hospital during your labor to assist. In my practice we see most patients for labor induction when they call us out of the blue and tell us they are late and are trying to avoid being medically induced.
The acupuncture treatments we provide are very useful and effective - although for obvious reasons we try not to push things too much in our office. Generally, most patients (95%+) will go into active labor 4 to 26 hours after their visit to our office. This is fine, but the small percentage of patients that don't go into labor could use more frequent treatment (1-2 times/day until they do go into labor). This is often unfeasible unless you do home visits.
So what can you do alone to help promote labor? There are thousands of folk remedies from nipple stimulation to eating eggplant and everything in between. What works for one woman will be different for another and a lot of it is just having patience and trust in the natural process. A recent study from medical researchers in Iran, however, confirmed one of our recommended acupressure points is helpful for cervical ripening and promoting labor. This point, SP 6, is often part of most labor induction protocols and is easily stimulated by a loved one who is helping you through the process (or by yourself if need be).
Researchers recruited 150 woman with full term pregnancies that had been admitted to the hospital for delivery. They divided them into 3 groups - one group a researcher performed the acupressure, another the mother herself performed it and the third group was a control receiving standard care. SP 6 was stimulated about 20 minutes for 1-5 days and a variety of measurements were taken to see if the point promoted cervical ripening and labor.
They found that the point is a "safe technique and leads to cervical ripening". There were some differences between having someone do the point for you (better results initially) or doing it yourself. After 96 hours, however, the results were similar.
So this is another tool that is easy to apply and has good clinical validity that you can add in with eggplant and squats and whatever else the thousands of mother ancestors will tell you worked for them. During the birth of my son I was doing everything my wife asked me for with one arm and with the other was stimulating sp 6 to aid the process of both initial labor and during delivery (alternating with LV 3) and things went quite smoothly.
Generally these points do best, in my opinion, used more often for less time. So just a few minutes 3-5 times a day when you are trying to promote labor.
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