Prebirth Acupuncture – Lesser-known Research on How Acupuncture Prepares You for Labor

What is Prebirth Acupuncture?

Prebirth Acupuncture is acupuncture to optimize your body so that it is ready to delivery naturally. You come in for a series of weekly treatments beginning at week 36 of your pregnancy.

Will the baby come earlier than it should?

Preparing for birth using acupuncture is not the same as inducing labor. Acupuncture treatment to prepare for birth will not and cannot bring on labor at will. Your baby will only arrive when ready.

How qualified are you at giving acupuncture to prepare for birth?

We have at least 10 years of experience working in 2 birth clinics and working with pregnant women recommended by doulas in Singapore.

How does Prebirth acupuncture help me?

Prebirth acupuncture reduces the need for emergency C-sections, increases the chances of vaginal delivery and reduces the time you spend in active labor.

Prebirth acupuncture also reduces the need for epidurals and inductions. This is especially important if you prefer these not to be included in the birth plan.

Overall, Prebirth Acupuncture is meant to prepare your body for a smoother process of labor.

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How is Acupuncture to Turn a Breech Baby different than Prebirth Acupuncture?

We can only share from our experience working with both turning a breech and Prebirth Acupuncture.

Women usually come in to turn a breech baby slightly earlier between 32 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes they come in later, like close to week 38, but these are less common. Women come in for prebirth acupuncture from week 36 onwards, and stay all the way up until they deliver.

When implementing acupuncture to turn a breech, we use acupuncture points that help ‘nudge’ a baby into turning into a head-down position. When implementing Prebirth Acupuncture, we don’t even try to move the baby too much from week 36 onward, but from week 38 on, we do start gently using some acupuncture points that help with increasing blood flow in the pelvis. Past the EDD, we employ even stronger acupuncture points to help bring on labor. The method of acupuncture is slightly different, and the choice of acupuncture points are also different than those used to turn a breech.

There has been substantial research on how acupuncture can help you prepare for birth

NHS hospital maternity annual data from 2014-2014 was assessed to see what effect prebirth acupuncture had on labor and delivery outcome. These were the findings by Lokugamage et al (2020):

  • Women who received acupuncture had more natural than surgical deliveries.
  • Women who received acupuncture required less intrapartum analgesia.
  • Women who received acupuncture needed fewer components of labor induction.
  • Women who received acupuncture had a reduced length of a hospital stay.

Prebirth Acupuncture to prepare for birth reduces time in labor and encourages more efficient labor.

Are you a first-time mum who wants to optimize conditions for your birth? The process of birth is complex and involves a multitude of factors. While we cannot always control the process, we may be able to put in place certain interventions that might make the process easier.

We know from a study by Kubista and Kucera (1974) that acupuncture had the effect of shortening mean labor time Another study by Zeisler et al (1998) affirmed this finding, concluding that “acupuncture treatment is a recommendable form of childbirth preparation due to its positive effect on the duration of labor, namely by shortening the 1st stage of labor.” In the study, the acupuncture group had a median duration of 196 minutes compared to 321 minutes in the control group.

Acupuncture helps older women to prepare for birth

Pregnancies in women over age 40 are more risky, which also explains the higher rates of cesarean deliveries. Prebirth Acupuncture Treatments may help to prepare the body for natural vaginal birth, especially when maternal age is considered a risk factor.

Handayani and Balgis (2019) successfully implemented prebirth acupuncture on 2 women who then went on to deliver naturally, without need for a cesarean intervention.

Prebirth Acupuncture reduced the need for medical induction

Research by Rabl (2001) showed that acupuncture shortened duration from due date to delivery by almost 3 days. 4 out of 45 women were delivered within 24 hours of their first acupuncture treatment, while no women in the control group delivered within 24 hours of their first examination. In the end, only 20% in the acupuncture group was medically induced, compared to 35% in the control group.

All first-time mothers under my care from October 2000 to February 2001 agreed to have prebirth acupuncture, once a week for three weeks.

These were their outcomes (note that estimates of duration of ‘normal’ labor are around 14 hours for primigravida and eight hours for multigravida):

Janice: normal birth, 5-hour labor;
Andrea: normal birth, 9-hour labor;
Robin: normal birth, 6-hour labor;
Suzette: normal birth, 7-hour labor;
Nicky: water birth, 7-hour labor;
Rachael: normal birth, 7-hour labor.
– Nicky Costello (midwife, USA)

acupuncture to prepare for birth

Prebirth Acupuncture increases the chances of a positive birth experience.

An observational study of 169 women in Wellington, New Zealand, shows how acupuncture to prepare for birth may:

  • Reduce the time you spend in the first stage labor
  • Reduce the rate of emergency cesareans by 32%
  • Increase vaginal birth rates by 9%

In addition, if your birth plan hopes to exclude inductions and epidurals, prebirth acupuncture may

  • Reduce the number of inductions by 43% (if you are a first time mom)
  • Reduce the incidence of epidural usage by 31%

Prebirth Acupuncture can also help in other ways.

When you come for acupuncture to prepare for birth, your practitioner will also address other issues that you might be facing during this last leg of your pregnancy.

  • Acupuncture can be useful for swelling in your fingers and legs
  • Acupuncture can help with back/hip pain/sciatica
  • Acupuncture can help with indigestion and acid reflux as your baby grows bigger and affects your digestive system.
  • Acupuncture can help with headaches, neck pain and shoulder aches.
  • Acupuncture can help with mood and also with sleep disorder during the last leg of pregnancy.
acupuncture to prepare for birth singapore
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