Image: Ancient Chinese Acupuncture Text

Image: Ancient Chinese Acupuncture Text

Complementary therapies are frequently used in pregnancy to alleviate all sorts of symptoms. Some, like acupuncture, are even now recommended by enlightened Doctors and midwives. Others remain more on the fringe than in the mainstream.

As with all therapies, please ensure your therapist is qualified and accredited by an appropriate organisation.

ACUPUNCTURE & ACUPRESSURE
Acupuncture can be brilliant for all sorts of things during pregnancy – including, rather bizarrely, helping turn breech babies back round the right way – and is frequently used to encourage spontaneous labour. It really needs to be done regularly from at least 36 weeks to help prepare your body. I like this quote though: “As they say in China: ‘When the fruit is ready, it will fall off the vine'”[1]

Probable efficacy: good. Best to include as part of pregnancy preparations rather than as a last minute thing at 42 weeks. (Incidentally, Birthzang tried acupuncture to avoid an induction and it was bloody painful!). Some of my references say a study shows acupuncture makes no difference to starting labour [2], but some others have looked at the same study and says it makes a difference but not a statistically significant one [3]. Conclusion: It won’t harm you, but it might hurt!

OSTEOPATHY/CHIROPRACTIC
I shouldn’t really lump them together as their philosophies and practice are quite different but the outcome is the same: adjusting your body so it is all nicely aligned and balanced. This is not really going to make any difference to when you go into labour but ensuring your pelvis is straight and the baby is able to get into a good position is going to encourage labour to start, and hopefully make the passage of the baby through the pelvis smoother  during labour and birth.

Probably efficacy: poor. But will definitely help the process of labour and birth itself. Studies show that both chiropractic [4] and Osteopathy help shorten labour [5]. Ought to be done regularly for at least a month before due date and probably a few sessions after birth to help the body heal correctly.

REFLEXOLOGY
Massage of the feet, or hands, is always a lovely and enjoyable way to spend an hour or two. Reflexology can also be surprisingly effective and stimulating parts of the body and while the treatment would be tailored to the individual, some stimulation of the uterus, ovary and hormone points would undoubtedly be part of a treatment in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Probably efficacy: medium. There was a study recently undertaken by midwives to see if reflexology would help induce labour. Results are unclear about induction but undoubtedly helped shorten labour time. [6]. It is certainly not going to do you any hard and frankly any excuse for a massage in my book.

REIKI
Reiki is the stimulation of the body’s energy flows through gentle touch or even just close proximity to the healer. Quite a spiritual approach to healing, but if you are really connected to your body and mind then perhaps it might work for you.

Probably efficay: medium. On the fence, but again a bit of TLC ain’t gonna hurt. Couldn’t find any studies so it probably won’t hurt to try!

HOMEOPATHY
Could probably be listed here but I have decided to include this on the Consuming Methods page.

So therapy seems to help you prepare your body and shorten labour more than induce it, but that is good enough for me! Back to the original post….

Acupuncture
[1] http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/natural-induction-methods#.Uo39eyQsJPa
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919333/[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16966110

Osteopathy/Chiropractic
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/
[5] http://www.jaoa.org/content/112/6/343.full

 

Reflexology[4]