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Birth Preparation and Support starting from Week 34

Fri 24th July 2020

Labour Induction (preparation) with Acupuncture.

First of all, Congratulations! What an amazing time for you and your family :)

So, you’ve heard that Acupuncture is effective in supporting birth preparation and most likely “good for natural induction or for avoiding medical induction”- so the AcuFit team have put together this article to shine a spotlight on Acupuncture and its role in birth. 

Let’s start with the definitions: What is Labour induction?

Labour induction means to lead the patient to labour via artificial means i.e Prostaglandin, catheter insertion, oxytocin, ARMS etc.

Increasingly, women are being recommended by their doulas, midwives or obstetricians to try Acupuncture to progress to labour and avoid medical induction, if possible.

We tend not to use the term induction in clinic because most of the time if a mum’s contractions haven’t started- there’s a reason why.

Our Job? To identify and treat the reasons why.

Acupuncture & You:

Oftentimes our role as acupuncturists in a birth support setting is to address challenges of Baby’s position, hormonal activity, cervical ripening and in an increasing level: emotional preparedness.

Stress can be a huge limiting factor when it comes to progressing through to labour in the same way stress is problematic in day-to-day life eg work or relationship stress.

Stress in the current climate (Covid 2020) has thrown a spanner into a lot of family’s birth plans.  Additionally, in our area of wollongong the birthing suites at Wollongong Public have recently undergone renovations.  So, coupled with what would normally be a stressful time- there’s been initial unforeseen hurdles to overcome.

As you can probably guess- Stress is our first Acupuncture target.  Providing a calm, relaxing environment is of paramount importance for mum to begin preparing for birth. 

As practitioners our role is to support mum work through specific treatment goals and landmarks via acupuncture, acupressure and/or gentle movement exercises.

Each woman elects care at varying stages, some need support with engagement, hormonal changes, cervical ripening and/or initiation of contractions.

Acupuncture does not induce labour, it facilitates the body transitioning through stages if mum and baby are ready for birth. Regardless of whether Acupuncture plays a role in avoiding medical induction, we know we can support the body relax enough so that mum is as ready as she can be in the event that induction becomes a reality.

Acupuncture is not a one shot approach to guaranteeing natural labour; most women will require multiple and frequent visits in order to achieve their desired outcome. Which equals more chill time.

Birth Preparation with Acupuncture:

We (generally) use Acupuncture to target specific goals at each week of your visit:

Week 36 Ideally, birth preparation treatment should begin around week 36, when the baby typically begins to engage.

Week 37 Target: Support hormonal shift and tissue softening.

Week 38 Target: Promote Cervical Ripening.

Week 39 Target: If Baby is still high, strongly promote engagement and tissue softening; if engaged, promote cervical ripening.

Week 40 Target: If the baby is engaged and mum has a ripe cervix- we promote contractions.otherwise we work to strongly address cervical ripening or previous targets as necessary.

Our key goal regardless of week is to facilitate relaxation and calm.  As we mentioned earlier emotional preparedness is a big barrier to your body relaxing and welcoming labour and birth.

Anything you can do that’s fun or relaxing is the most important thing to prioritise in the later stages of pregnancy. Whether that's cruisy walks to the beach, catching up with friends or just relaxing at home with the family.  

Below is a Relaxation Acupressure series which you can get your birth support person to do for you from 34 weeks onward. We commonly prescribe it to women as it builds strong bonding and trust with your support person and it’s- you guessed it- RELAXING.☺️

Back Muscles Acupressure:

Starting at the base of the skull, massage gently down along the muscles adjacent to the spine down toward the buttocks.

This downward descending movement is very relaxing and also alleviates built up tension and stress.

Key Tips:

  1. Diffuse essential oil blends. Establish calming associations with specific oils in a safe environment, such as at home, so that when you use them in your desired birth setting you can feel those relaxation vibes.
  2. Gently rocking the hips from side to side multiple times a day. Cat/cow is a fantastic yoga position to use. (as long as it doesn;t create discomfort or pain).
  3. Epsom salt foot soaks. (This blog was written during winter).  If comfortable, soaking your lower legs in warm water with epsom salt can aid in relaxation and support swelling in joints and feet.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the clinic 😊

Eamon ✌🏻

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Phone: 0490 019 147

2 Raymond Rd, Thirroul NSW 2515

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