Labour Support and Preparation

  • Acupuncture prepares the body for labour
  • Acupuncture can induce labour
  • Acupuncture and moxibustion can correct a breech baby
  • Acupressure during labour reduces pain by 50%

Labour Preparation with Acupuncture – 3-4  weekly visits

Recommended Treatment:

Starting at week 36 or week 37 getting acupuncture once per week for 3 weeks will help prepare your body to have a great labour.

Labour is not something that happens all of sudden, but rather a process that is gradual and begins days before you even realize you are in labour. There are many chain reactions involving hormones which acupuncture can help to start-in a gentle way

Using acupuncture to prepare for labour is very safe.

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Labour brings the birth of your baby, the goal of the whole 40 weeks of pregnancy. It is always the thought in a woman’s mind: What kind of labour will I have?  Will it be long or short, will I be able to handle the pain, will everything be ok?  Each labour and birth is different and unique, no two are same.

The process of labour is a collaboration of many different responses and reactions, understanding them, trusting them and with a little preparation, you can improve your chances of having a good- and even great labour.

One way to prepare for labour is to use acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture will help a woman achieve the best possible labour that she can have.

A series of at least 3 acupuncture sessions when used in the last three weeks of pregnancy improves the quality and efficiency of labour.  When labour is efficient it means that a woman’s body is working its best. There will be less pain, labour will be faster and there will be less need for medical interventions such as artificial inductions and caesarean sections.

Using acupuncture in the period leading up to labour also has the effect to rebalance the body which will help with emotional stability, ease fears and anxiousness and relax tired muscles. Feedback from midwives who attend births of mothers who have had the acupuncture preparation is very positive.

The acupuncture points that are stimulated, work to ripen a women’s cervix which is where the baby will pass through during labour and to prepare the muscles surrounding the pelvis. Women often feel the baby moving during the treatments. In the days following a session mild period like cramps are felt, this is the loosening of muscles around the pelvis and the cervix softening up. The treatment is painless. The feeling that people most often describe is heaviness where the needles are used. Women also report feeling relaxed and sleeping better.

Any woman who wants to give their labour the best possible chance should incorporate acupuncture in preparation for giving birth. Acupuncture is safe even for women who have high risk pregnancies or who are planning on using pain medications during labour. The benefits of acupuncture preparation can be utilized by women no matter what style of birth they are planning.

Acupuncture can provide a gentle inducement to labour if the baby is overdue and can be an effective alternative to a medical induction. Pregnancy due dates are guidelines, women should not feel any sense of urgency when they are a few days past due. An acupuncture induction can be started no later than three days before a medical induction is scheduled to give the treatment time to take its course.

Research about acupuncture to prepare for labour here.

Other tips to enjoy a fulfilling and natural labour:
  • The birth experience is enhanced when the labour partner is trained in support techniques- learning acupressure is a great support technique which encourages communication and can offer relief to labouring mom. Acupressure Booklet D.Betts
  • Make informed decisions, never feel obligated to agree to things you don’t feel comfortable with, and ask questions until you feel confident you are making an informed decision, knowing both pros and cons of each decision.
  • Plan to have an active birth- Contributes to less pain, shorter labours, less fetal distress and more powerful pushing. More info here.
  • Believe that the process of birth is instinctual, trust that your body will know what to do. Labour is a process that is intimately connected with hormone levels and reactions. Being fearful or stressed will trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline, the major stress hormones in the body. This will have negative impacts on the labour, possibly  stalling or lengthening the process and there will be more chance for fetal distress and complications. On the opposite end of the spectrum, being relaxed and confident will promote the hormone which promotes labour mainly oxytocin as well as hormones which lessen the pain such as endorphins.
  • Keep the birth space free of unwanted people and noises which will trigger the stress hormones.
  • Incorporate water into your labour and/or birth-Increased maternal comfort and ease to move around, less pressure on the abdomen, promotes relaxation, reduces pain, softens skin to reduce tears and promotes a  faster labour.
  • Try looking at the process of birth in another way- Birth as a bowel movement. Read about it here.

Acupressure During Labour

Using Acupressure during your labour can greatly reduce the pain and let you enjoy the experience.  This is an invaluable tool for your labour and is easy to learn.  A small selection of points to be pressed during contractions by the labour partner (husband, friend, mother, doula etc).  Using acupressure greatly reduces the intensity of the contractions.

Labour doesn’t have to be something to dread, it can be a powerful experience to welcome your new little one into the world.

This information is valuable for any woman, no matter what “type” of labour she is planning. Completely natural no matter what or wants all the pain medications available, planning to be at the hospital or at home. Even if you have plans to get the epidural, you don’t get it right away and you may wish you had some pain relief techniques on hand.  These techniques give the partner an active role in the labour as opposed to feeling helpless and confused.

Acupressure Booklet D.Betts – download this excellent free booklet or come in with your labour partner for a demonstration where you can learn to locate the points with confidence and ask any questions.

Acupuncture Induction

The birth of the baby is the end goal of the entire pregnancy, its what it’s all about! The “Due Date” is the question everyone asks about.  It often becomes the obsession of the mother and the healthcare professionals.

In fact, the due date for the labour is not meant to be a firm date, but it is an estimation. A pregnancy is considered full term at 37 weeks, but it is best the baby has as much time in the womb as possible without going past 42 weeks.

Births that occur before 39 weeks are associated with higher risks of complications and premature death from factors such as under-developed lungs, infection due to under-developed immune systems, problems feeding due to under-developed brain and jaundice from under-developed liver.

Pregnancies that continue past 42 weeks (294 days) also have risks to the mother and the baby, this is why medical professionals will induce labour sometime between 41 and 42 weeks.

There are special circumstances when labour will be induced earlier than a full term pregnancy such as multiple pregnancies, pregnancies with significant complications like diabetes etc.

In Chinese Medicine, a labour that fails to commence at the optimal time is due to either a blockage that is obstructing the flow of energy or due to a lack of energy that cannot push out the baby.

Factors that can cause imbalance that will lead to overdue pregnancy include:


  1. Too much cold food can cause cold in the uterus which contracts and causes blockages.
  2. A diet lacking in the proper nutrition will not give the body enough strength and energy leading to deficiency


  1. Stress and fear, especially about the upcoming labour or if there was a previous traumatic labour will lead to blockages of the energy


  1. Exposure to wind, cold and dampness will lead to blockages and invasion of the wind, cold and damp.


Acupuncture induction is scheduled 3 days before the medical induction is scheduled. This is to allow the baby the maximum amount of time in the womb but to still allow the acupuncture enough time to take effect.

Labour Induction begins with:

  1. Consultation: Health history with questions, looking at your tongue and taking your pulse.  This determines what is out of balance according to Chinese Medical theory and will show how the imbalance is contributing to the overdue pregnancy.
  2. Acupuncture is done daily for up to 3 days, although labour often starts after the first or second session.
  3. Address any questions and concerns.


A study done in 2001 (Wien Klin Wochenscher) consisted of 45 women who were randomly split into 2 groups. One group of 25 women received acupuncture every 2 days on cervical ripening points. The other group of 20 women did not receive any treatment.

The time from the woman’s due date to delivery was an average of 5 days in the acupuncture group compared to 8 days in the group with no treatments.    The labour was induced in 20% of women who received the acupuncture compared to 35% of women who received no treatments.

In conclusion, acupuncture supports cervical ripening and can shorten the time interval between the woman’s expected delivery date and the actual time of delivery.