Around weeks 28-34 babies will generally start to settle into a head down position in the pelvis. Baby’s can turn at any time however it occurs less often passed 34 weeks as the baby grows leaving it with less space. The ideal position for the baby in labour is one where the baby’s head is down; chin tucked towards its chest and the spine is facing outwards towards the mother’s abdomen.
In a breech presentation the baby’s bum or feet sit above the cervix rather than its head. This presentation often results in C-section due to the risks of laboring with the baby in such a position. Another common occurrence is a baby can descend head first into the pelvis but have their spine aligned with the mother’s spine. This position can often prolong labour and create more back pain as the baby’s spine is pressed against the mother’s.
For centuries Chinese Medicine has been addressing these complications with a technique called moxibustion. A Chinese herb is used to heat certain acupuncture points which influence the mother’s hormones and result in increased fetal movement that encourage the baby into a better position. Its efficacy has most recently been published in a 2010 study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Pre-birth Acupuncture (Cervical Ripening)
Pre-birth acupuncture consists of a set of weekly acupuncture sessions beginning around 36-37 weeks and continuing until the commencement of labour. They are intended to prepare a woman for a harmonious birth and positive experience. By balancing hormones, calming the sympathetic nervous system and improving blood flow to the reproductive organs this series of treatments is beneficial to ripen her cervix, calm her mind, and strengthen her blood and energy in order for her mind and body to be ripe and ready for a smooth labor and birth.
In addition, pre-birth treatments are an ideal time to safely treat many other pregnancy complaints such as heartburn and hip pain. It is also the perfect time to ensure baby is in the best possible position for an easy journey.
Studies show some very promising statistics on the positive effects of cervical ripening and we see this confirmed on a daily basis in our personal practice. These positive effects include shorter duration of labor, 35% reduction in medical inductions, 32% lower cesarean rates and even a 31% reduction in requests for epidural with an overall increase in natural normal vaginal deliveries.
In our experience our clients find these sessions deeply relaxing and enjoyable. It is also a wonderful time for prenatal education as well as an opportunity for answering questions, and offering lifestyle and nutritional counseling and support.
We strongly encourage all women to have pre-birth acupuncture and be proactive and educated in their pregnancy and childbirth choices.
Many woman are unaware that acupuncture can be beneficial in labour. Position of the baby, fatigue and irregularity of contractions can all impact labour progression.
Acupuncture can support your labour in many ways! To learn more click here