Acupuncture for birth preparation and birth relief is also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Meanwhile, about one third of women who are pregnant for the first time already rely on the effect of the small needles. A study by the Gynecological Clinic of Mannheim shows that the procedure shortens the length of birth of first-time mothers from ten to eight hours on average.
Relax and gain confidence before giving birth
Acupuncture is a method of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a holistic form of therapy that works not only locally - ie where the needle is stimulated - but in the whole organism. Although it can not repair "destructions" in the body, it does regulate disturbed functions. By piercing the needles into precisely defined points, a disturbed energy flow is restored and the energy is balanced between different body regions.
Acupuncture is especially suitable for pregnant women who want to prepare naturally for childbirth. And birth preparation acupuncture can help women relax and trust their own strength and energy to go through the birth. The positive effect of acupuncture for general birth preparation, but also for complaints during pregnancy and during childbirth is proven by various studies.
General childbirth preparation
A study of the gynecological clinic in Mannheim (1) has shown that acupuncture on first-time mothers shortens the length of birth on average from ten to eight hours. This positive effect is based on a faster maturation of the cervix (Cervix) and a more targeted labor in the opening phase; So in time to the complete opening of the cervix. The acupuncture can only shorten this phase, on the Austreibungsphase, however, has no influence.
The birth preparation acupuncture also ensures that the woman feels the birth pains less painful and that the contractions are more targeted in the ejection phase. The birth-shortening effect of acupuncture is only triggered when the woman's body is naturally matured to birth. The treatment therefore has no influence on the date of birth and does not lead to premature labor.
Typical pregnancy complaints are:
- premature labor
- morning sickness
- Pain of various kinds
- Anxiety, agitation, sleep disorders
- pregnancy-related high blood pressure
- Mispleasures of the child
Other studies show the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief, birth relief and relaxation during childbirth. It is used in the first major complaints; usually with a cervical opening of four to five centimeters. The acupuncture points for pain relief are in the area of the lower abdomen or the back of the woman. In addition, it is used in problems with the release of the placenta (so-called mother cake) after the birth of the child.
What happens in the acupuncture session?
The birth preparation acupuncture is performed either by a gynecologist or by a midwife. Both must have completed a corresponding training with a final exam. Treatment begins at the 36th week of pregnancy, usually with a 20 to 30-minute session per week. At least three treatments should be performed, four are usual.
If the appointment is over, even more sessions are possible: Especially in a time of constant waiting many women find the close contact with the midwife or the gynecologist very beneficial. And they can benefit from the soothing effect of acupuncture during this time of tension.
Carrying out the acupuncture treatment
The location of the acupuncture points is well defined. The midwife gropes in the appropriate area until the patient signals her a pressure-sensitive point. The needle is brought in a first step quickly and without rotating movement in about 0.5 centimeters depth. The puncture is usually painless, because the standard needle is only 0.3 millimeters thick. It is made of flexible steel that flexes but does not break.
Thereafter, the needle is advanced under a rapid rotational movement until the release of the so-called De Qi feeling. This can be a feeling like heat, numbness, pressure, heaviness, tingling or even a tiny, painless electric shock. However, the feeling differs from patient to patient. The stitch depth depends on the position of the dots and can vary between 5 millimeters and several centimeters, but must be kept exactly.
For birth preparation, four points are treated on each side of the body:
- below the knee,
- in the area of the inner ankle of the foot,
- on the upper lateral calf
- and on the outer side of the little toe.
In addition, a head point can be punctured, which generally has a calming effect and helps with anxiety symptoms.
Side effects of acupuncture treatment
Some women get problems with the circulation during treatment. One reason for this, in addition to the purely physical causes, also a general "fear of needles". For unstable circulatory patients, it is therefore helpful to perform the treatment semi-sitting, half-lying with slightly elevated legs. The circulatory reaction usually disappears with further treatment because the body gets used to the acupuncture and the patient also knows better what to expect at the second session.
After acupuncture, the punctured spot may be slightly red, or it may form a small bruise. Both are completely harmless and disappear by themselves.
(1) Study: Römer A., Weigel M., Zieger W., Melchert F. (1998): Changes in cervical maturity and length of postnatal acupuncture therapy. In: Roman A. (ed.): Acupuncture therapy in obstetrics and gynecology. Hippocrates, Stuttgart