Labor Induction with Acupuncture, by Molly Hutto, L.Ac

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I love inducing labor with acupuncture; the soon to be moms are excitedly anticipating the arrival of their new baby, and there is a lot of “is this it? “energy in the air.  Recently however, the National Institute of Health came out with new findings that demonstrate women’s pregnancies very by up to five weeks.  Previously, gestation periods were questionable, because one’s date of conception was usually a guess, at best.

What is nice about using acupuncture to induce the labor is that like most things that acupuncture treats, it presents itself to the body as a suggestion, rather than an order.  In other words, if your body is not ready to labor, and or if the baby is not ready to be born, it simply won’t produce contractions that are hard enough to induce labor, yet mother will still enjoy the relaxing benefits of an acupuncture treatment.  That being said, if mother and baby are both physiologically primed for labor, acupuncture is a beautiful and natural way to get the ball rolling, and as acupuncturists located near a busy hospital, we are fortunate to get to deliver this procedure fairly frequently.

With so much pressure these days to have a baby no matter what by forty weeks, especially because the last few weeks of pregnancy are especially uncomfortable, it is easy to understand why many new parents are eager to induce labor or schedule C-Sections.  However, particularly with NIH’s latest surprising findings of varied gestation periods, one might be wise to reconsider forcing their chosen due date since these findings suggest our babies do not come until they are ready.

Inducing labor via a Western approach commonly involves a drug called Cytotec that aids in the softening of the cervix, though Cytotec has not yet been approved for labor induction by the FDA, and therefore understandably, there is a lot of controversy around using this drug for this purpose.  Oftentimes, if Cytotec is not enough to fully induce one’s labor, a woman is given Pitocin which will then stimulate contractions, which frequently are much stronger than natural labor contractions a mother would have without the Pitocin.  Of course, despite the controversy surrounding using a labor induction method, it is undeniable that we are extremely fortunate to live in a time when these practices are available, as there are very real medical instances when to not induce labor could pose a valid threat to mother or baby.

Yet if the need for induction is not quite as pressing, or if an expectant mother prefers not to be exposed to these strong drugs, acupuncture labor induction may actually be their best and safest option, as it is a natural method performed by a professional.  Using acupuncture needles and often gentle electro-stimulation, we are able to release the body’s tension, influence hormone release, and in many cases, stimulate the onset of contractions, bringing on labor naturally, without forcing a process that neither mother or baby are physiologically prepared to begin.  If you or a loved one are expecting, you might benefit to speak to a local acupuncturist to find out more about this relaxing procedure, before your littlest one enters the world.

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