Pre-birth acupuncture reduces the mean labour time
Research on the use of acupuncture to prepare women for an efficient labour first appeared in a study by Kubista and Kucera in 1976. Using acupuncture points St 36, GB34, Kid 8 and Bl 62, once a week from 37 weeks gestation, their research concluded that acupuncture was successful in reducing the mean labour time of the women treated.
This was calculated in two ways. The first was the mean time between cervical dilation of 3-4 cm and delivery. In the acupuncture group, this was 4 hours and 57 minutes compared to 5 hours and 54 minutes in the control group.
The second was the mean time of labour, taken from the onset of regular (10-15 minutes) contractions until labour. The acupuncture group had a labour time of 6 hours and 36 minutes, compared to 8 hours and 2 minutes in the controls.
Kubista E Kucera H Geburtshilfe Perinatol 1974;178 224-9
Pre-birth acupuncture can shorten the first stage of labour
In 1998, another study was performed, using points, Du20, Ht 7 and Per 6, treating from 36 weeks gestation. This study concluded that acupuncture treatment had a positive effect on the duration of labour, shortening the first stage of labour, (between 3cm dilation to full dilation) from 321 minutes in the control group, to 196 minutes in the acupuncture group.
Zeisler et al. 1998
Pre-birth acupuncture reduces likelihood of medical intervention during labour
In 2004 there was another study where 169 women who received prebirth acupuncture were compared to local population rates for gestation at onset of labour, incidence of medical induction, length of labour, use of analgesia and type of delivery.
In the acupuncture group, there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women who were having their first baby, there was a reduction of 43%) and a 31% reduction in the epidural rate, a 32% reduction in emergency caesarians, and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births.
Sue Lennox and Debra Betts, Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth