Acupuncture and Labour Pain

23 April 2008

(1) ACUPUNCTURE: PAIN-KILLER OF CHOICE Obstetricians from Norway have said that acupuncture is the analgesic method of choice for reducing labour pain, whether supplemented by pharmacological pain-killers or not. 210 mothers in spontaneous labour were randomly assigned to receive either real acupuncture or false acupuncture. The results were tested by assessing their request for pharmacological pain-relief, and on their perception of pain felt on a Visual Analogue Score. The researchers concluded that acupuncture not only reduced the amount of labour pain, it also reduced delivery time. It was particularly useful for those mothers preferring non-pharmacological pain-relief without side-effects. (Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2002 Oct; 81(10):943-8).

A study carried out at Orebro University Hospital in Sweden has found that women who received acupuncture during labour were less likely to ask for an epidural to relieve pain (12% compared to 22%) and felt more relaxed than women who did not receive acupuncture. 46 women were randomised to receive acupuncture during labour, and reported at least once an hour how much pain they were experiencing and how relaxed they felt. Results were compared to 44 women who did not receive acupuncture. The women in both groups had constant access to other methods of pain relief, including epidurals, nerve blocks and warm rice bags. The acupuncture was administered by midwives who had gone through a 4-day course on the use of acupuncture during labour and was individualised according to the type of pain experienced. The women who received acupuncture were half as likely to request an epidural during labour, were less likely to ask for other types of pain relief, such as nerve stimulation therapy or a warm rice bag, and reported feeling more relaxed than their untreated peers, although the treatment had no significant effect on how much pain the women said they were feeling. The acupuncture appeared to have no effect on the length of labour. (British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2002;109:637-644).

A study was conducted to see if acupuncture can influence cervical ripening, induce labour and reduce the need for induction. 45 women were randomly assigned to an acupuncture or a control group on their due date. In the acupuncture group, women were needled at Hegu L.I.-4 and Sanyinjiao SP-6 bilaterally every other day, until they either gave birth or, if the due date was exceeded by 10 days, were induced. In the acupuncture group the time from the first positive fibonectin test to delivery was 2.3 days (compared to 4.2 days in the control group), the time from due date to delivery was 5 days on average (7.9 in the control), and only 20% of women in the acupuncture group needed to be induced (35% in the control). There was no difference in duration of labour between the two groups. (Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001;113:942-6).

: Acupuncture

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