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Acupuncture for labour induction

For many women, labour anticipation is one of the most stressful parts of pregnancy. Research has indicated, however, that anxiety or nervousness during pregnancy increases the risk of extended labour (Hishikawa et al, 2019).

So how do we get out of this vicious cycle? Pre-birth acupuncture can help! By relaxing the pelvic muscles and cervix, it promotes a natural timely childbirth and decreases the duration of labour.

What is a “due month?”

Many of us are familiar with the term “due date”, the date when a baby is expected to be born. Yet only 4% of babies are actually born on their due date, 80% arrive either two weeks before or after. This forms a whole month, commonly referred to as “due month”. Talking about a due month gives a more accurate understanding of when to expect your baby. You can find your due month using this online calculator by entering the date of conceiving and your last period.

What is acupuncture for labour induction?

As mentioned above, one of the ways in which acupuncture can be used during pregnancy is to ready the female body for birth, particularly by preparing the pelvis and cervix for labour.

So when should you start acupuncture? It’s recommended to start appointments with your acupuncturist around the 36th week, right before your due month. Treatments are done weekly, targeting specific sets of acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is safe for the mother and child and is a great complement to Western medicine methods at this stage of pregnancy (Betts, 2004; Chen et al, 2014).

What does the pre-birth acupuncture therapy actually help with?

Induction acupuncture helps your muscles relax, preparing your mind and body for childbirth. Relaxing the muscles decreases the tension of the belly and pelvis area sinews, preparing the uterus and cervix. This also assists with stimulating balanced hormones. Pre-birth acupuncture has the following advantages:

  • Increasing the readiness of the cervix which prompts natural labour (Rabl et al, 2001). Women who have received pre-birth acupuncture go into labour faster than those who haven’t.

  • Shorter labour time. After receiving pre-birth acupuncture, the average time of childbirth for first-time mothers is reduced from 8 hours 2 minutes to 6 hours 36 minutes (Betts, 2004).

  • Optimal labour time. It may be tempting to think that the shorter the labour, the better. Unfortunately, this is not true. Extremely fast labour is shocking to both the mother and the baby. However, long labour is harmful and potentially life-threatening to the mother and the child too. Pre-birth acupuncture optimises labour time, making it neither super short nor too long (Betts, 2004; Chen et al, 2014, Rabl, 2001).

  • Relieve labour pain by aiding increased relaxation of the muscles and sinews (Smith et al, 2017).

  • Increase stamina. This in turn promotes uterine contraction strength (Wang et al, 2006).

All this decreases the chances of needing a medical intervention during childbirth. And of course, relieving the stress around childbirth helps women have an easier pregnancy, a much-needed relief during this important time of their lives.

If you’d like to find out how acupuncture can help during your pregnancy and labour, book a consultation with our lovely acupuncturist who would be more than happy to help.


[1] Analysing the Study of Using Acupuncture in Delivery in the Past Ten Years in China

[2] Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term--a randomised controlled trial

Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6

[3] Research shows acupuncture may help prepare pregnant women for labour

[4] Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study Of Its Use In Midwifery Practice

Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-2

[5] Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term--a randomised controlled trial

[6] Wang B, Liu JY, Han Y, et al. Study on effect of electroacupuncture at Hegu (LI 4) on the uterotonic time in parturients of uterus inertia. Zhongguo Zhen jiu = Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 2006 Dec;26(12):843-846. PMID: 17313002.

[7] Hishikawa K, Kusaka T, Fukuda T, Kohata Y, Inoue H. Anxiety or Nervousness Disturbs the Progress of Birth Based on Human Behavioral Evolutionary Biology. J Perinat Educ. 2019 Oct 1;28(4):218-223. doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.28.4.218. PMID: 31728113; PMCID: PMC6791580.

[8] Smith CA, Armour M, Dahlen HG. Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD002962. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002962.pub4. Accessed 10 October 2023.


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