It was two weeks before his due date that my second son, Cole, decided to make his debut. My house wasn’t clean, the bassinet was in a pile on the floor, my husband was out of town and I had a full schedule of clients to see that day. Unlike my first pregnancy, I had little braxton hicks or night time contractions to mentally prepare me for labor. My bell was my water breaking as I picked up my 2 yo son to get him ready for day care.
The saying “baby will come when baby’s ready” rang through my head.
As my water leaked, NO contractions came. No internal hugs from my little guy announcing his early arrival.
I was worried and anxious because I wanted to birth in a birth center.
I wanted my husband there.
I didn’t want to go the hospital.
I wanted less intervention to have a birth that I knew was possible.
My water broke at 11am & the clock was ticking.
My husband arrived around 5pm and when we got settled, I pulled out my acupuncture kit and started doing points commonly known to help induce labor. My contractions became existent but weren’t consistent or rhythmic enough to make me feel confident. They scratched the surface of me feeling any assurance that it’ll work out they way I hoped. As 11pm got closer, so did the contractions. We checked into the birth center for monitoring and antibiotics. My midwives greeted me with herbal tea to support progression & I supervised them as they helped me do another acupuncture treatment as I rest in bed.
The rhythmic waves I hoped for greeted me with intensity. My baby was coming.
By that time, my stress and anxiety melted away. My husband was there. I was in the birth center. I was in active labor and 8 hours later, Cole was in my arms.
Acupuncture to prepare for labor is an effective yet gentle way to help ease mama’s anxiety and promote cervical ripening for the start of labor. It’s also a great intervention to prevent additional procedures to induce labor.
- No differences were found between the acupuncture study groups in the incidence of perinatal outcome, congenital abnormalities, pregnancy complications and other infant outcomes; thus, illustrating acupuncture is safe in pregnancy.*
- Acupuncture for cervical ripening shortened the average number of days of estimated due date to delivery down to 5 days versus the control group of 7.9 days and reduced the need of induction to 20% in the acupuncture group versus the control group of 35%. *
When to Start & the Benefits:
- Start prepping for labor at 35/36 weeks with a gentle session once a week until due date will promote cervical ripening and reduce the need for labor induction treatments.
- Sessions promote stress reduction, reduction in anxiety and pain alleviation. Mama usually leaves feeling very relaxed!
- If you’re scheduled to be induced, have acupuncture every day at least 2-3 days prior to your scheduled appointment.
- Acupuncture is not invasive or aggressive.
- Reinforces intermittent or inconsistent contractions.
- Mama can go into active labor within 24 hours post treatment.
When Induction is Suggested:
This is not to say induction is not necessary and useful in circumstances that warrant it. But if the idea of induction worries you, please know you have the right to seek a second opinion from another birth professional such as a midwife or doctor for advice on your timeline. They can review what possible measures will be taken, the risks and benefits. Sometimes you just need someone to completely vent to in order to feel heard. Please remember that you do have options, you have your voice and your healthcare team is working for you, not the other way around!
Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J (2002). “Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy”. Complement there Med. 10 (2): 78-83.
Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnaue M, Zeisler H, Husslein P (2001). “Acupuncture for cervical ripening and inductin of labour at term – a randomized controlled trial”. Wien Lin Wochenschr; 113(23-24): 942-6.
If you have questions about labor prep or inductions please feel free to call me at 480.426.9251 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org