Acupuncture for Delayed Labour

At the Sean Barkes Clinic we offer acupuncture treatment to induce labour in the case of women who are post-term, as well as in the case of pre-term women who have been advised by their midwife or obstetrician that, for certain medical reasons, labour needs to be induced.

In either case it is important to inform your midwife that you intend to use acupuncture to induce labour, so that they can advise you accordingly.

In the first instance, we begin by assessing, from the energetic perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, why labour may have been delayed.  This is, typically, either because the free flow of the mother’s Qi (or vital energy) is inhibited so that the natural transition into labour is held up, or because there is insufficient Qi to kickstart this process.  The former situation is often associated with stress or anxiety, for example in a first time mother who is unduly nervous about the whole process; the latter case may occur in a mother who is excessively fatigued.

Our treatment proceeds using acupuncture in the first case to smooth the flow of the Qi, calming the mind and spirit of the mother so that labour can commence, and in the second case to supplement the Qi so that there is enough energy to begin the process.  Sometimes, especially in the former case, we use electro acupuncture to enhance the effect of the treatment.  Ideally this treatment is repeated on a daily basis until contractions begin, although often only one or two treatments will be required.

Is Acupuncture Helpful in the treatment of Delayed Labour?


A randomised controlled trial conducted in North Carolina, USA in 2006 found that post-term women receiving acupuncture were more likely to labour spontaneously and thus avoid delivery by Caesarean section.1


1 A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for initiation of labor in nulliparous women. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2006 Aug;19(8):465-70).


The Sean Barkes Clinic does not claim to cure any conventional medical disease states. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to re-establish and maintain the harmonious function of the human body-mind using tried and tested principles that have been discovered and matured over millennia. A Western medical diagnosis provides very little by way of insight in informing a Chinese Medical diagnosis. Patients usually recognise their own condition in terms of the medical disease category that they have been given by their GP or other conventional medical practitioner. The research presented here is merely an indication of the potential to draw parallels between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine.

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