Acupuncture to induce babies has a long tradition and has been used for centuries as a safe and effective way to encourage the start of labour. It is gentle because acupuncture treatment cannot force nature and so if the baby needs a little more time, treatment will not start the birthing process immediately. It will however get the body ready for imminent labour by starting to open and stretch the cervix.
If you have been doing your reading about the individual hormones that play an important role in labour then you will know that oxytocin and prostaglandins are the triggers. Oxytocin or 'love hormone' can only be emitted in the absence of adrenaline. It's actually a very clever evolutionary tool. If a woman is giving birth and a wolf walks into her cave her body becomes flooded with adrenaline. The production of oxytocin ceases immediately, stopping the contractions, and enabling her to flee. In the modern world a stressed out mum equates to the same thing. Acupuncture will work on alleviating stress, lessening the production of adrenaline to allow more oxytocin to flood the system.
We have induced a great many babies so we're used to seeing expectant mums, desperate to meet their new bundles of joy (and desperate to feel a little more comfortable again!) In fact during the days leading up to Christmas we tend to see more overdue mums all hoping that their babies aren't born on Christmas day!
Of course, sometimes a baby will insist on being stubborn and need a little more time before they're ready to enter into the world but for most, this technique does prove very effective.
Using moxibustion to turn breech presentation babies
Whilst it might appear strange, moxibustion is an age old method of turning babies presenting in a breech position. Many studies have been conducted which prove that this method has a very high success rate.
An acupuncturist will use moxa, which is a herb made from the mugwort plant. The herb is moulded into a cigar-like stick and is set alight and smoulders near specific acupuncture points. The mother is given homework to do this herself every morning and evening until the baby turns. It has instant effects and the mother will be able to feel the baby moving once the heat is applied.
It has proven very successful in my own clinic and is such an easy and completely pain-free method. No needles are used, just some gentle heat. It's actually rather pleasant!