One of my close friends, who happens to be a midwife was commenting the other day whether all the techniques women try to bring on labour truly make a difference, or whether their labour would normally happen without all the ‘extras’ (e.g. acupuncture, massage, eating certain types of foods, doing specific types of exercises, having a cervical sweep done, etc.). She was also concerned that some women try to do too much before their body is truly ready to deliver. I agreed with her on this point.
In Chinese medicine, we do not give treatments for labour until the woman is due or past her due date as promoting an earlier birth does not necessarily provide any real benefit to mother and child and can in some cases cause more problems. We can however, prepare the body several weeks before a woman’s due date to encourage cervical ripening and ensure a smoother delivery. I mentioned that while it is true that a woman will in most cases go into labour without any intervention or additional procedures, the actual experience of labour can be quite different depending on what you do to prepare your body for it. The analogy I used was that of a person who has slow moving bowels. While it is true that someone who is constipated will eventually pass their stools (due to the nature of gravity!), it will most likely be quite painful and uncomfortable if no remedy is taken to soften the stool and help it move through the intestines more efficiently. Similarly, for some women, labour can sometimes be frought with stops and starts, slow movement and (dare I say it…pain!).
Treatments such as acupuncture are ideal for delayed and slow labours since it can help relax the mother, and initiate a proper physiological response in the body for labour to begin and continue towards a safe, natural and healthy birth. And while very few women can honestly say their labours are pain-free, acupuncture might just be the needed treatment ‘extra’ that sets the ball rolling and helps take the edge off of labour!
For more information on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to treat pregnancy, labour and beyond, please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com