A female patient who is 38 weeks pregnant with her second child came to see me today. She had to have an emergency C-section with her first child due to the results of a prolonged labour and because the baby’s heart rate had dropped. With a toddler who needs to be looked after, a husband who has no paternity leave and no family members around to help, she desperately wants to have a natural labour this time so that she can recover quicker. Her midwife said acupuncture can help with bringing on labour, so she came to see me.
How can acupuncture help?
Firstly, and most importantly acupuncture addresses the fear that those mothers who are very close to their due date or already over-due, are experiencing. They fear that their babies might suddenly be too big; their fluid levels become too low; their bodies will somehow never go into labour on their own. Once a pregnant woman is at this point, a fight-or-flight response automatically starts deep within her. As in any frightening situation, adrenaline is released. Blood is shunted away from her uterus, and her heart is gripped in panic. There is no way her baby is coming out gently or easily.
Rather than focusing on stimulating acupuncture points that work to regulate contractions and help the baby descend, a good acupuncturist would first take the patient out of that fight-or flight state and relax her body and mind. Once that tightness of the muscles has gone, the body is no longer doing its ‘holding’ action and it is ready to ‘let go’ of the baby.
Your acupuncturist would also look at the constitution of the pregnant woman and find out what needs to be strengthened. For example, a treatment for nourishing blood and boosting energy might be appreciated so the patient is not too exhausted to consider active labour. At this stage, points to bring on labour can be added to the treatment to stimulate more strongly.
All the areas discussed above can be addressed in one treatment.