Acupuncture to Induce Labor

When women come to our clinic to induce labor, it’s usually because they’re already past their expected due date. They come in because they don’t want a C-section or to be chemically induced. Chemical induction and C-sections carry their own risks, but, for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the process of using acupuncture to promote labor.

Certain acupuncture points are known to have a downward bearing effect. During pregnancy, acupuncturists know to avoid these points, but when they’re due date has arrived, it’s time to start needling these points. The points I use to help induce labor are GB21, LI4, SP6, UB60 and UB67. Personally, I find it even more effective to use an e-stim machine between GB21 and LI4. This seems to bring on contractions faster. If the patient is already having contractions, it’s also effective to turn the e-stim on while the contraction is happening. GB21 and LI4 are also great points to massage or just use as pressure points during the labor process.

The practice of using acupuncture to induce labor has been very effective in my clinic. The only times I’ve seen it not work, no other modality worked for the patient either. In other words, when acupuncture has failed to induce labor, all methods to promote labor, including chemical induction, have also failed and the end result was a C-section.

I was motivated to write this article after having a patient come in this past week, who was 4 days past her due date. Since she had already had a baby via C-section, her doctor was only going to let her go 7 days over before doing another C-section. Since chemically inducing can create much stronger contractions, women that have already had a C-section are not allowed to be chemically induced. My patient really wanted to have a natural birth for this baby and I’m very glad I could help.

An interesting piece of information about this patient is that when she was pregnant with the first baby and trying to induce, she used acupuncture (from a different acupuncturist) to try and induce labor and it was not effective. She did tell me that the previous time the acupuncturist did not use GB21 or e-stim. I think using e-stim between GB 21 and LI4 is probably the most effective part of using acupuncture as a successful tool to help induce labor.

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