Preparing for Labour- Cervical Ripening with Acupuncture

Giving birth can be, and often is, one of the most awakening and meaningful experiences of life. It does not matter how many times a woman has birthed a baby, each birth is a marathon with or without road blocks along the way. Those courageous enough to run a marathon prepare for months or years prior to undertaking the venture. Given the physical and mental requirements of birthing (arguably exceeding those associated with completing a marathon), would it not make good sense to prepare for the performance? Preparation should be undertaken prior to and throughout pregnancy and especially in the last few weeks before the due date. Acupuncture can be a part of this preparation.

A study conducted in New Zealand (Betts and Lennox, 2006) showed that giving women pre-birth acupuncture resulted in a decreased need for medical inductions, epidurals and emergency c-sections and increased the likelihood of normal vaginal births. While acupuncture may be used at various times, for various reasons, throughout pregnancy, preparation for labour via "cervical ripening" may begin during weeks 37-40 (time of "in-between") of gestation (The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between: Mothering Magazine).

Cervical ripening treatments are carried out once a week from 37-40 weeks gestation, in order to prepare the cervix and pelvis for labour. The treatment is not carried out with the intention of inducing labour immediately. Rather, the purpose of the treatment is to work with the mother's body in order to help the baby become engaged in a favourable position within the pelvis and for the cervix to gradually soften and dilate. Thus, the treatments function to ease delivery.

Here is a link for further research on cervical ripening and please visit the resource pages on our website to see how Chinese medicine can help you!

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