Traditional acupuncturists believe that labour should be a natural process in which the progression is directed by the flow of energy in the mother’s body. Ideally labour should move smoothly from one stage to another. This does not mean that the labour is painless, but that the contractions are efficient, so that the mother does not become exhausted and can remain calm and in control. We believe that the woman in labour should enter a state in which she can focus totally on what is happening in her body, supported by birth attendants and free from distractions.
Acupuncture in labour also works towards this ideal. In the early stages of labour, the insertion of needles and massage of acupuncture points can be used to smooth the flow of energy to support the efficiency of contractions. Acupuncture can also be used during the transition between the first and second stages of labour.
Once the baby has been born, acupuncture can be used to assist the physiological third stage.
Treatment in labour often requires that a few needles are inserted into points, and then left in place. Common sites include the ear, the lower back and the hands and feet. Deep massage of energy pathways or acupuncture points may also be used to help smooth the flow of energy and support the mother during contractions. An additional role of the acupuncturist is to encourage the mother to stay in a focused and calm state throughout the labour. Acupuncture treatment in labour can be used in conjunction with conventional methods of pain relief and will often complement their effectiveness. The British Acupuncture Council has compiled a fact sheet on acupuncture in childbirth for your information.
Practitioners who attend labours have a little icon near their name on the practitioner list. They have been attending hospital and home births since the group was established in 2000.