Pregnancy is such an exciting time and wonderful journey. As a chiropractor, it is a privilege to help parents-to-be with all of their pregnancy aches and pains. One of the most exhilarating parts is when the baby is finally on their way and the labour process is starting!

3rd Trimester Changes

In the last few weeks of pregnancy there are changes that happen as the pregnant person’s body and baby are preparing for the labour and birth (2). This can include baby “dropping down” into the pelvis, the cervix softening, and even potentially experiencing irregular contractions (1). You might be wondering; how do our bodies know to start this labour process? While there are still many unknowns surrounding it, researchers believe that when the baby is ready to come, they are able to signal hormones to begin labour (1).  

Labour Induction

Even though our bodies know how to kick start the labour process, there are times when the medical professional overseeing your pregnancy may deem it necessary to stimulate the labour process. This is known as labour induction (1-4) and is ideally only offered when it is thought to be best and healthiest for both the pregnant person and baby (2).

Some reasons for induction can include:

  • the pregnancy going beyond the due date
  • pre-labour rupture of the membranes
  • concerns about the health of the mother/baby such as pre-eclampsia (2).

While there are conventional medical approaches to starting labour, some people are open to exploring complementary therapies, one of them being acupuncture (1-4).

What exactly is Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture, adapted from traditional Chinese acupuncture, involves the knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and evidence based care (3). Very fine needles are inserted into specific points of the body simultaneously, and can be connected to electrostimulation (2). This can have positive effects on the body such as increasing local blood flow, decreasing pain, and influencing the body’s healing response (3).

Acupuncture & Labour Induction

Dr. Alena Russo treating a pregnant patient in home.

There has been researched to determine if acupuncture is a safe and effective way to induce labour (1-4), and have no adverse events reported (1). Studies have shown that acupuncture may increase the readiness of the cervix for labour (2).

It’s thought that the reason why this happens, is that the acupuncture stimulates the uterus by hormonal changes, which can increase uterine contractility (2). One small study with 8 pregnant people showed that after one treatment all 8 women went into labour, which suggests that electrostimulation acupuncture may be a way to induce labor (4).

Is Acupuncture right for me?

There are many different types of practitioners that can provide medical acupuncture, after taking additional acupuncture certification. As a chiropractor, acupuncture is a treatment option I use often with all of my patients as a way to help decrease pain, plus the added perks for my pregnant patients. While more research is always beneficial to provide additional evidence, acupuncture may be an option to try at the end of pregnancy, as a way to speed up the labour process and finally meet your little bundle of joy.


References

1. Amis D. Care practice # 1: Labor begins on its own. The Journal of perinatal education. 2007 Jun 1;16(3):16-20.

2. Smith CA, Armour M, Dahlen HG. Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017(10).

3. Karim F, Dilley J, Cheung E. A review of acupuncture in obstetrics and gynaecology. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. 2019 Jul;21(3):209-14.

4. Cole E. Avoiding Medical Induction With Electrostimulation Acupuncture: A Private Practice Case Series of 8 Pregnant Women. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. 2017 Dec;16(6):32.


Dr. Alena Russo is a chiropractor and owner of Russo Family Chiropractic located in the heart of downtown Brampton. She has a passion for helping pregnant people, kids, babies, and families feel their best. After receiving her Honours Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University, she attended the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in Toronto. She completed her clinical internship at St. Michael’s Hospital, professionally collaborating with medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and so on.


Dr. Russo uses a multi-disciplinary, evidence-based approach to provide the best, hands on care possible. She is certified in many different techniques to better you and your family’s care including: The Webster Technique, Paediatric Intraoral Palate Specific Technique, and Medical Acupuncture. She is currently involved in research with CMCC, focusing on pre-natal health and education. Dr. Russo is the recipient of the Ontario Chiropractic Association’s Recent Graduate Award and the GTA Northwest Community Health Services Women’s Achievement Award. She is looking forward to helping you and your family’s health grow!

Follow her on Instagram where she is affectionately known as the Coffee Loving Chiro!

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