What is Prebirth Acupuncture?
This is a series of 4 weekly treatments from week 36-40 to prepare the woman’s body for labour. The aim of the prebirth acupuncture treatment is to promote a healthy and natural birth by aiding the ripening of the cervix, helping position the baby in the best position, and increasing energy levels and stamina for women to enter into labour.
What are the benefits of Prebirth Acupuncture?
The protocols used in this treatment are based on the practice and experience of a number of midwives and acupuncturists based in New Zealand who performed a study on 169 women. They found that when comparing all of the pregnant women's caregivers (midwives, GP's, consultants, etc) to those who had received pre-birth acupuncture there was:
- A 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women having their first baby this was a 43% reduction)
- A 31% reduction in the epidural rate
When comparing midwifery only care to women receiving pre-birth acupuncture there was a:
- 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery
- A 9% increase in normal vaginal births
- No difference in the onset of early labour in those women receiving pre-birth acupuncture
The first research on the use of acupuncture to prepare women for labour was a study done in 1974 by Kubista and Kucera. They found that weekly acupuncture from 37 weeks reduced the time women spent in labour. Zeisler et al, (1998) performed acupuncture weekly from 36 weeks in their study and found that the acupuncture had a positive effect by shortening the first stage of labour (i.e. between 3cm and full dilation) from an average of 196 minutes in the acupuncture group compared to 321 minutes in the control group (click here for the full text article).
Betts & Lennox performed an observational study in 2004 to examine the effects of prebirth acupuncture. Comparing 169 women receiving prebirth acupuncture to the local population they observed a 35% reduction in the number of medical inductions (for women having their first baby this was 43%) and a 31% reduction in the number of epidurals. When compared to the midwifery only care group there was a 32% reduction in the number of emergency caesareans and a 9% increase of normal vaginal births.
Kubista E, Kucera H. Geburtshilfe Perinatol 1974; 178: 224-9.
Zeisler H, Tempfer C, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M, Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour. Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5.
Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20