Expectant mothers may have heard that acupuncture can be used to prepare for labor or even to stimulate contractions to come on. If you are approaching the end of your third trimester and want to know more about what acupuncture can offer, here are some key points.
At Earth + Sky, we offer 2 distinct types of acupuncture sessions for those nearing the end of their pregnancy: labor prep and labor stimulation. While they might seem pretty interchangeable, they are actually quite different in their intention.
Anna Melhop Strong, our licensed acupuncturists explains the difference. “Labor prep acupuncture is acupuncture that is useful in preparing mom and baby to go into labor, while labor stimulation acupuncture is a technique that is aimed at increasing the intensity and frequency of uterine contractions.”
According to Anna, labor prep acupuncture focuses on 4 main things:
A. Positioning baby optimally for labor. If baby is in a breech or posterior presentation, acupuncture is aimed at re-positioning. If baby is positioned high and the mother is at term, acupuncture points can be used to gently encourage baby to drop.
B. Cervical ripening. There are acupuncture points that are used to facilitate cervical ripening as part of labor prep.
C. Dealing with aches and pains. As pregnancy progresses, back pain or pelvic pain can worsen as well as uncomfortable swelling of the hands and feet. Labor prep acupuncture can help with this. If you are uncomfortable, you are not going to be resting well, and resting as well as possible is an important part of getting ready for labor.
D. Calm the mind. The prospect of giving birth can preoccupy a woman’s mind, especially as the due date approaches or has arrived already. Sometimes this “Qi Stagnation” as it is termed in Chinese medicine, can block a woman who is otherwise ready from going into labor naturally. Treatment will help create a state of calm.
Ideally, a woman begins labor prep around 36 weeks, and has weekly sessions until delivery. Not every pregnancy calls for stimulation acupuncture, but every pregnancy can benefit from labor prep acupuncture. And if needed previous prep sessions can actually make a stimulation session more productive. Labor stimulation acupuncture is recommended only when it is deemed appropriate by a midwife or OB-GYN. In other words, just because you are a few days away from your ‘due date’ might not mean you need a stimulation session!
The exception? Medical Induction. Anna advises, “If someone is facing the prospect of a medical induction, they should consider coming in for an evaluation to decide which type of treatment would be best for them.” In addition, labor stimulation acupuncture may be used prior to a medical induction to prepare, or during labor to encourage contractions.
Lastly, its good to know that massage and acupuncture pair well together. “Having a massage first can help a person relax prior to the acupuncture session and receive the needles more easily.” says Anna. She also adds that doing them on the same day is not only permissible, but advised. So book yourself some self care time before the baby arrives. All good things come in due time, including the little one you are waiting on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support the readying process in the meantime!
To schedule a labor prep acupuncture session click here, for labor stimulation please call our office to schedule.
Anna Mehlhop Strong is a Licensed Acupuncturist and dedicated practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Master’s Degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and is licensed and registered to practice in New York State. Anna began her study of this ancient tradition after witnessing firsthand the healing effects of Chinese medicine. Her education included thorough training in the prescription of herbal medicinals, the diagnosis and treatment of health imbalances based on the theory of Chinese medicine, and a firm foundation in Western anatomy and physiology. She also completed a year-long internship at an acupuncture practice specializing in fertility, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Before moving to New York City, Anna was in private practice in the Chicago area from 2011-2015 successfully treating numerous patients for health issues ranging from musculoskeletal complaints, fertility difficulties, allergy and immune health, and stress and anxiety. She is happy to practice a medicine that offers maximum healing with minimum side-effects and enjoys being able to facilitate a patient’s journey to health.