Acupuncture in Pregnancy and for Delivery (2003)
Gabriel Stux, M.D., Acupuncturist, Germany
Acupuncture is used extensively in Europe in pregnancy and for delivery. It is estimated that 50% of midwives are using acupuncture in Germany. A survey was sent to 1000 OB/Gyn hospitals in Germany and half responded. Eighty to ninety percent of hospitals were using acupuncture, especially midwives.
In Germany, the application of acupuncture started 20 years ago with Acupuncture Analgesia during delivery. Today its use has been expanded to a much wider spectrum of applications. Especially during the course of pregnancy the deeply relaxing and Qi flow promoting effects of acupuncture are utilized to benefit the harmonious development of the different stages of pregnancy. Acupuncture can be applied in early and late stages of pregnancy (3).
In an early stage of pregnancy with the help of chakra acupuncture the mother can consciously connect and feel with the soul level of the baby. This soul heart alignment improves the mother child relation significantly. The father/partner can also be integrated on the soul level in this early stage of pregnancy in their relation to mother and child.
In the late stages of pregnancy the maturation of the cervix and birth channel is promoted, reducing the duration of delivery by 20% from an average of ten hours of labor to eight hours.
Controlled Clinical Trials in Obstetrics
Five controlled clinical trials on the use of acupuncture during pregnancy and labor were conducted. In particular, the studies examined the efficacy of acupuncture on breech presentation and the duration of and preparation for labor. In general, one may conclude that these studies show a clear effect of acupuncture on the rate of turning of breech babies. While more research needs to be done in these areas to confirm the findings, the results so far are very encouraging for the use of acupuncture on pregnant women with breech presentation around the 33rd week (1).
The study on preparation for labor by Römer et al. showing significant reduction in the duration of labor and a preparation for labor more significant maturation of the uterus for labor is particularly impressive. The sample size was very large, the methodology and assessments good, and the results very clear for acupuncture, compared both to control acupuncture and to an additional no treatment group (1).
Acupuncture for Preparation of Delivery
The controlled study by Römer, showing excellent results, had a strong positive impact on the use of acupuncture in obstetrics (2).
In the acupuncture verum group 329 primiparious women treated with 4 four sets of points once a week, starting at week 36. The duration of treatment was 20-25 minutes.
In the control/placebo acu group 224 primiparious women were treated with “emotionally balancing” acupuncture points.
The data of the two acupuncture groups were compared with a non treatment group of 325 primiparious women, which gave birth during the same survey period at the same hospital.
(In actual treatment, both labor preparation and emotional balancing points are used).
Results of the Clinical Trial
The duration of labor was:
- 470 minutes (almost 8 hrs) in the acupuncture verum group in contrast to
- 536 minutes (almost 9 hrs) in the placebo acupuncture group and
- 594 minutes (10 hrs) in the non treatment group.
The differences were statistically significant.
The target parameters, length of the cervix and Bishops cervical score, were taken in the 36th week and again in the 40th week of pregnancy.
Bishop score showing a better maturation of the cervix was:
- 5.9 points in the verum acupuncture group,
- 4.0 in the placebo group and
- 3.6 in the non treatment group.
The differences were statistically significant.
The change of length of the cervix was:
- 15.9 mm in the verum group;
- 9.8 mm in the placebo acupuncture group and
- 8.9 mm in the non treatment group.
A funnel formation at the os internum in the acupuncture verum group was seen in 82.1% of 329 women, which was significantly higher than 30.1% and 29.3% in of the two other groups.
When verum acupuncture was used for preparation for delivery the labor was easier and quicker.
1. Birch S, An Overview of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Stroke, Addiction, and Other Health Problems in Stux G, Hammerschlag R (2001) Clinical Acupuncture Scientific Basis. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York
2. Römer A, Weigel M, Zieger W. Melchert F (1998) Veränderungen von Cervixreife und Geburtsdauer nach geburtsvorbereitender Akupunkturtherapie. In: Römer A (ed) Akupunkturtherapie in der Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde. Hippocrates, Stuttgart
3. Stux G, Pomeranz B (2003) Basics of Acupuncture, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York