Acupuncture for labour preparation and cervical ripening is becoming one of the
most requested treatments for pregnancy patients. Ideally, labour prep treatments start at 36 weeks up to 40 weeks. I usually recommend one treatment per week for week 36 and 37 followed by two treatments per week for week 38 and 39.
During these treatments you will lay (fully clothed) comfortably on your side or semi-reclined depending on preference. Most of the acupuncture points used are from the elbow down and knee down. I also will do a few points on the outer ear. Most women find the treatments very relaxing and usually have a bit of a nap.
The acupuncture points used focus on a few aspects to help the body prepare for labour including: softening the cervix, relaxing the hips and pelvis to encourage baby to descend, and overall relaxation for mama.
After 40 weeks, if needed and requested, a second set of points can be added that encourage uterine contractions to start. The hope is that with preparing the body before hand, the body will naturally go into labour or will only need a gentle nudge to get things going. (I am going to do a second post about the ins and outs of labour induction.)
In some case, your OBGYN may recommend a medical induction at at 38, 39, or 40 weeks. If this is the case, labour prep can still be an option but we would just have to start treatments a bit earlier or have more frequent treatments. Just confirm with your primary health care provider that there are not any major complications involved. Even if your body doesn't go into labour naturally before being medically induced, the acupuncture treatments can help your labour to go more smoothly.
Hopefully that has helped demystify acupuncture and labour preparation
for you! If you do have any more questions please feel free to email.