Summary of Research for Acupuncture in Pregnancy

 

Cervical Ripening and Induction

In 2001 research was done at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Vienna, Austria on the effects of  acupuncture on cervical ripening and induction of labour.  "The aim of the study was to evaluate whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening, induce labor and thus reduce the need for postdates induction.” 45 women were divided into 2 groups. 25 Women were included in the acupuncture group and 20 in the control group. The acupuncture group received acupuncture every 2 days. All the women were evaluated every second day on cervical favorability. If women went 10 days post date they were given prostaglandins administered vaginally (a form of medical induction). The women in the acupuncture group averaged 5 days from the due date to delivery where as the women in the control group averaged 7.9 days from due date to delivery. Further to  that 35 % of women in the control group were medically induced as opposed to 20% in the acupuncture group. In this particular study there was no difference in the time duration of labour in the 1st or second stages.

The conclusion of the study was that specific acupuncture points used in birth preparation “supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the EDC (due date) and the actual time of delivery”

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Acupuncture's Effect On Labour Times

In 1998 research was done at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Vienna, Austria. "The aim of this case control study was to evaluate the thus far controversially discussed influence of acupuncture on the duration of labor." 

  • 120 women participated in study. 57 women in the acupuncture group were included in the study after spontaneous vaginal full-term delivery and 63 women were in the control group.  
  • The median duration of the first stage of labor was 196 min. in the acupuncture group and 321 min. in the non-acupuncture group. The median duration of the second stage of labor (the pushing stage) showed no difference between the 2 groups at 57 min in both groups.  
  • In the acupuncture group 30 women (67%) had a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) while in the non-acupuncture group 33.3% experienced PROM.  
  • Significantly more often, women who didn't have acupuncture  (85%) received oxytocin during the first stage of labor compared with the 15% of women in the acupuncture group. 
  •  During the second stage of labor (the pushing phase)  72% of the non-acupuncture group received oxytocin, while only 28% in the acupuncture receiving oxytocin. 

The conclusion was that the study suggested that acupuncture treatment "is a recommendable form of childbirth preparation due to its positive effect on the duration of labor, namely by shortening the first stage of labor.

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The Effect of Acupuncture on Cervical Maturation

In 1992 the Journal de gynécologie, obstétrique et biologie de la reproduction 21:4, pg 375-80 published research on acupuncture and cervical maturation. In the study 98 women were divided into 3 groups, 1 control group, 1 placebo group and 1 group treated with acupuncture. What the study found was that cervical maturation could be improved with acupuncture when carried out after the 37th week. The bishop score ( a pre-labour scoring system to assist in predicting whether induction of labor will be required) showed significant progression in the acupuncture group compared to the placebo and control group. 

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