Acupuncture can be used to help establish & regulate contractions. It can be used if your waters have broken to try & bring labour on.
During established labour
- to keep contractions regular
- to make contractions effective
(ie dilate cervix).
- to keep mother calm
- to give mother strength & energy
- to help manage labour pains
- to encourage baby down birth canal
- stimulate contractions to promote delivery of placenta
- promotes cessation of excessive bleeding
Systematic reviews of randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials suggest that acupuncture may help to relieve pain during labour (Cho 2010; Smith 2006). The later review found that acupuncture was superior to conventional analgesia but not, or marginally, better than minimal (sham) acupuncture. Given that ‘sham’ acupuncture interventions are not inert placebos the effect of ‘real’ acupuncture may be under-estimated in such trials, and non-superiority should not be taken at face value (Lundeberg 2009). Since that review was compiled there have been further trials supporting the efficacy of electroacupuncture (Ma WZ 2010), moxibustion (Ma SX 2010) and acupressure (Hjelmstedt 2010).
Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with conventional methods of pain relief and can complement their effectiveness.