Labor Prebirth Cervical Ripening and Acupuncture
As the end of pregnancy nears, the cervix normally becomes soft (ripe) and begins to open (dilate) and thin (efface), preparing for the birth. The baby also starts to move further into the pelvis and into position. The better the baby’s position and the more effaced the cervix is when the woman goes into labour, the faster and easier the labour tends to be. A ripe cervix facilitates a better birth, reduces the need for pain medication and lowers the risk of needing a caesarean section.
A New Zealand 2006 clinical study showed acupuncture pre-birth treatments resulted in:
Acupuncture treatments commence week 36 or 37, as long as the baby’s head is down and not breech.
A standard set of acupuncture points are used to prepare the body for birth. Points can be added to deal with presenting problems, such as carpel tunnel, pregnancy-induced hypertension, heartburn, insomnia, shoulder pain, and anxiety.
Debra Betts is a guru in acupressure for pregnancy, her website is full of free resources of acupressure points and methods to use for birth preparation and during labor. She has a nursing background and a graduated from the London College of Acupuncture in 1989. She began teaching acupressure to midwives in 1997.
Additional Recommendations for Cervical Ripening
Note regarding Induction requests
Victoria does NOT offer induction treatments at week 40 or past week 40 if the cervix is closed and there were no pre-birth cervical ripening treatments prior to. We cannot go back in time. Acupuncture’s role is to help soften (ripen) the cervix in preparation for labour and is best starting at week 36-37. If the cervix has softened, effaced, and at least 1-4 cm dilation, and any membrane sweep(s) have been performed, acupuncture may take place, but it is less likely to induce labour. Starting cervical ripening treatment at week 36-37 is highly recommended for best outcomes.
“using a standard set of acupuncture points weekly to prepare women for labor is an accepted practice in German hospitals where acupuncture is practiced”
– Roemer A (2005). Medical Acupucnture in Pregnancy. Thieme New York, p99.