Labor Preparation / Induction
Labor Induction Methods
The most common Western method of labor induction uses synthetic Pitocin to jump-start labor. Pitocin will start contractions whether the mother's body is ready or not. Because the mother's body is not always ready, labor fails to progress 40-50% of the time, starting a chain of events that can lead to a caesarean section. Synthetic Pitocin also has other serious risks, including fetal distress and cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, most women find that Pitocin causes very intense and painful labor.
Labor induction with acupuncture stimulates uterine contractions and softens the cervix. The treatment starts a hormonal process which stimulates the mother's body to release prostaglandins and oxytocin, the natural hormone that Pitocin mimics. As a result, it is a much more gentle and natural process than Western induction. Because of this, the effects are not instantaneous, as they are in Western induction. Depending on how far into pre-labor the mother's body is determines the number of treatments needed. Some women only need one or two treatments, while others may need several treatments for real labor to start.
Labor Preparation/Pre-Birth Acupuncture
Acupuncture for labor induction is safe for both the mother and baby as long as there are no serious complications with the pregnancy. Several studies show a success rate of over 70%.
Although acupuncture labor induction at 39-40+ weeks can be very effective, Cindi prefers to start seeing women for labor preparation earlier in the third trimester in order to gradually move the body towards natural labor. Pre-birth treatments at this time gently facilitate the gradual, natural onset of labor. Cindi finds that this more gentle approach leading up to a full induction has a much higher success rate than doing last-minute labor induction alone.
Research done by Kubista and Kucera in 1974 found that women pregnant for the first time receiving acupuncture for four weeks prior to delivery reached ripening of the cervix more quickly than the control group. Studies have shown that pre-birth acupuncture helps in these ways:
- Reduction in medical induction rates
- Reduction in women receiving epidurals
- Reduction in emergency caesarean sections
- Increase in normal vaginal births