In the majority of pregnancies, labor begins on its own when the time is right. A skilled doctor or midwife assists as necessary, but nature largely takes its course. Sometimes, though, the decision is made to induce labor. Complications can also arise when a baby is in the breech, or feet-first, position. In many cases, acupuncture can replace Western medical solutions for these issues. Always make these decisions in consultation with both your acupuncturist and your Western physician, as acupuncture is not necessarily the right choice in all situations.
What Is Induced Labor?
Induced labor is a medical intervention that artificially starts the birth process. It may include a variety of physical and mechanical techniques, as well as a prescription medication known as Pitocin, which induces strong, rhythmic contractions. Pitocin is successfully used in many cases, but it does increase the likelihood that you will need an epidural due to the pain, as well as the chances that something will go wrong, necessitating a C-section.
Why Is Labor Induced?
Labor may be induced for many reasons. If the pregnancy is at full term (at least 39 weeks) and either the mother or baby shows signs of medical distress, induction may be recommended. Likewise, those whose pregnancies have reached 42 weeks may need to be induced to avoid the complications that can occur with a post-term pregnancy.
However, some practitioners also encourage induction for babies that are just slightly late (40 or 41 weeks) or are larger than average, as well as for women who live far from the hospital, or even simply to accommodate the doctor’s schedule. Because labor induction carries some risks, it is never a good idea to induce labor unless it is medically necessary.
How Acupuncture Can Induce Labor Naturally
Acupuncture can provide a gentle, natural alternative to medical labor induction. Several specific target points are used to encourage the body to enter labor on its own. After a few one-hour sessions, more than 70% of women successfully achieve labor without the need for Pitocin or other harsh Western interventions. In some cases, acupuncture is used in tandem with Western methods. Your doctor and your acupuncturist should work together to develop the solution that is best for you and your baby.
Natural Options for Breech Babies
Breech babies, or those who have not turned to a head-first position, pose a special complication during delivery. They are one of the most common causes for C-sections, although some can be turned through a complex manual process. Acupuncture offers an alternative known as acupuncture-moxibustion. This ancient Chinese technique has been used for centuries.
Traditionally, this process involves compressing the herb moxa, or mugwort, and rolling it into a cigar shape, and then lighting two sticks and holding them closely over specific acupuncture points. The disadvantage of the traditional method is that it creates a great deal of odorous smoke. However, a newer variation uses a charcoal version of moxa that does not release smoke. This is what is currently used in most modern clinics, and it provides the same benefits as the traditional method.
Like the manual turning procedure, acupuncture-moxibustion does not work for every breech baby. Increasingly, though, Western physicians are encouraging their patients to try the process. Speak with your doctor and your acupuncturist to determine whether this procedure is right for you and your baby.
Most pregnancies follow nature’s course with minimal intervention by either a doctor or midwife. Sometimes, though, nature needs a little help. Thousands of years of Eastern traditions have developed techniques that may be used alone or in conjunction with Western interventions. Always get your doctor’s approval before undergoing any form of alternative therapy.
Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-428-1215 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
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