While acupuncture has long been used to relieve the general aches and pains of pregnancy, a new wave of treatment has been increasingly being used in delivery rooms – acupuncture. The pain relief usually offered during labor and delivery, such as an epidural, has long been known to cause many unpleasant side effects. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is a an all-natural pain reliever, one that is becoming more accepted in the medical community.
Acupuncture vs Other Forms of Pain Relief
As Acupuncture gains more ground in the medical community, scientific studies have been commissioned to find the truth behind acupuncture – does it really work?
In a 1998 study, 90 women received acupuncture during labor, and 90 women did not. In the group of women who did receive acupuncture during labor, 52 women gave birth without additional pain relief, while only 13 women from the control group did. As opposed to the 14% of women who gave birth without pain medications in the control group, 58% of women who received acupuncture during labor went on to deliver without further pain interventions.
The Known Effects of Acupuncture
Along with pain control, acupuncture has been known to reduce stress, granting one more control over their own pain levels. The less stressed that a woman in labor experiences, the more control she has over her own body – this lends itself to less pain and an easier delivery overall. And, not only can acupuncture help during labor and delivery, but it can also be a natural way to induce labor in women who are past their due date, meaning pitocin will not be needed, which has been known to make labor more intense for some women.
The effects of acupuncture on back and pelvic pain during childbirth were studied in two separate studies, done in 2008 and 2009. Both came to the same conclusion: Acupuncture can provide effective pain relief during labor, leading to a more natural delivery.
Acupuncture’s main system of relief is through stimulation of the nervous system. Endorphins are released as a result, leading to increased relaxation, less tension and anxiety, and reduced inflammation. For woman who would really like to avoid the use of pain relievers, the many pleasant “side effects” offered by acupuncture can be useful in achieving that goal.
Is Acupuncture During Labor Safe?
As long as your acupuncturist is licensed and experienced in working with pregnant women, there is absolutely no reason to worry about the safety of acupuncture during your pregnancy, and subsequent labor and delivery. While there are certain acupressure points that should not be manipulated during pregnancy, a skilled acupuncturist will no this and avoid those spots.
Talking with your acupuncturist before treatment can lead to increased trust, and a more pleasant experience. It is also a good idea to check the availability of your acupuncturist before you go into labor, as calling last minute can mean they might not be available for assistance.
Labor and delivery are intense, draining experiences, both physically and mentally. Acupuncture after delivery can help to speed up the healing process, with increased levels of chemicals that are released during acupuncture, such as endorphins. Acupuncture can also help you get a more restful sleep, alleviating the aches and pains associated with delivery.
As always, talk with your licensed acupuncturist to get a good idea of the services they offer and what they may suggest for your particular situation. Coming up with a care plan, with the help of your acupuncturist, puts you in control of your labor and delivery, leading to a more relaxed and comfortable experience.