When you are preparing for the birth of your baby, one of the most daunting things is wondering how you are going to deal with the pain of labor. More and more women are seeking natural alternatives to coping with labor pain that may be better for them and their new baby.
Recent research suggests that acupuncture may help control pain during childbirth.
To evaluate, researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, UK conducted a computerized literature search of several databases. They identified three trials that fit their quality standards.
In the first trial, 106 women who received acupuncture along with conventional medication were compared with 92 women who were given only conventional care.
It was found that the acupuncture group was less likely to request for pain medications than those who did not receive acupuncture. Almost all women treated with acupuncture said they would use the complementary treatment again for labour pain.
The second trial involved 90 women who were randomly assigned to a group that received acupuncture or a group that received conventional care. Both groups were also given the requested pain medication or non-pharmacologic pain management techniques such as a bath or shower.
It was found that women in the acupuncture group requested less of one pain medication, but similar levels of other pain medications than those in the comparison group. The acupuncture group also reported a higher level of relaxation than their peers and was less likely to request non-pharmacologic pain treatment.
In the third trial, 106 women received acupuncture and 102 women received placebo acupuncture, in which superficial needles were applied to non-acupuncture points. None of the women knew whether they received acupuncture or the sham treatment.
The acupuncture group reported less pain up to two hours after acupuncture and two hours after giving birth than those who received the sham treatment. The women who received acupuncture requested less pain medication than their counterparts.
Overall, the data suggest that acupuncture can be another option for pregnant women for labour pain management if future trials support acupuncture’s effect.
Acupuncture can also help make your labor shorter. Keep reading…
Influence of acupuncture on length of labor
Zeisler H, Tempfer C, Mayerhofer K, Barrada M, Husslein P., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, AKH, Austria.
The aim of this case control study was to evaluate the thus far controversially discussed influence of acupuncture on the duration of labor. Fifty-seven women with acupuncture treatment (group A) were included in our study after spontaneous vaginal full-term delivery. The control group included 63 women (group B). Average duration of the first stage of labor was 196 min in group A and 321 min in group B. Average duration of the second stage of labor was 57 min in group A and 57 min in group B. Thirty women had a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), in group A 66.7% and in group B 33.3%. Women without acupuncture (group B) received significantly more often oxytocin during the first stage of labor compared with group A women (85 and 15%, respectively) as well as during the second stage of labor (72 and 28%, respectively).
Our study suggests that acupuncture treatment is a recommendable form of childbirth preparation due to its positive effect on the duration of labor, namely by shortening the first stage of labor.