Natural methods of labour induction (2) Acupuncture

My last post looked at sex/ coitus as a method of inducing labour ‘naturally’, let’s now look at acupuncture.

** DISCLAIMER: this is an examination of the current literature only. Please do not try any of these methods (or anything else that would be considered stupid!) without first discussing with your own healthcare provider **

A study carried out in Denmark investigated whether acupuncture is effective for the induction of labour in post-term pregnancies. Labour or delivery was achieved in 12% of the acupuncture group and 14% in the control group (no acupuncture). They concluded that under the treatment regimen investigated in this study, acupuncture for the induction of labour in post-term women at gestational age 41(+6) weeks may not be effective.

A second study carried out in Canada looked at the effectiveness of acupuncture for the initiation of labour in women at term. Women that had acupuncture in average went into labour earlier, and also had shorter labours (mean of 2 hours 20 minutes). Hmmm, promising.

A third study carried out in Australia (sticking with the cross-continent theme!) reviewed the existing scientific evidence on the potential role of acupuncture on induction of labor during pregnancy. Their review found that acupuncture may be beneficial in labor induction, however (as always seems to be the case with studies, “more randomized clinical trials are needed to investigate this further”.

Bottom line: the literature seems to be leaning more towards acupuncture as an effective way to induce labour, however there is an obvious paucity of well-designed and controlled acupuncture trials.  Certainly after review of the papers, there were no ill effects of acupuncture described. Please check with your healthcare provider if you want to try acupuncture, and please ALWAYS go to a licensed and reputable practitioner.

Modlock J, Nielsen BB, Uldbjerg N. Acupuncture for the induction of labour: a double-blind randomised controlled study. BJOG. 2010 Sep;117(10):1255-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02647.x. Epub 2010 Jun 24.
Gaudet LM, Dyzak R, Aung SK, Smith GN. Effectiveness of acupuncture for the initiation of labour at term: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2008 Dec;30(12):1118-23.
Lim CE, Wilkinson JM, Wong WS, Cheng NC. Effect of acupuncture on induction of labor. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Nov;15(11):1209-14. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0100.

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