During your labour, my priority is to support you and your partner towards a calm and controlled birth. As there are no medical risks associated with using acupuncture, it can be extremely valuable in labour. It allows you to be mobile, keeps you relaxed and can be used in conjunction with other pain relief if necessary.
Acupuncture in labour may work by increasing the release of oxytocin and endorphins and by inhibiting the release of adrenalin. Many people find acupuncture treatments calming and relaxing, so a treatment between contractions can help you prepare for the next wave.
During labour I’ll use fine gauge needles and massage in combination to simulate acupuncture points in your lower back, abdomen, feet and hands. Small needles may also be inserted and retained in points in your ear which permits full mobility and may also be used if you choose to use a water bath. Sometimes I use a TENS machine to apply an electrical current to some of the needles. Rest assured that I will always tell you before I do anything, and you’ll understand why I am doing it too!
Acupuncture in early labour
Acupuncture may not be necessary if you’re feeling calm and in control. We might help stimulate contractions and place needles at points in your ear, as above. If you’re feeling nauseous, exhausted or anxious I will also use acupuncture points in your hands and feet.
Acupuncture in established labour
Acupuncture applied to specific points can help you maintain focus and keep contractions regular. It can also speed up the rate of dilation of your cervix and may help resolve the persistence of a cervical lip. Acupressure massage can help considerably with pain relief.
Acupuncture in final stage labour
Further needle stimulation can promote uterine contractions in a delayed third stage of labour, and can be used to help delivery of the placenta. I may target acupuncture points on your hands, feet and shoulders. Treatment to your toes and back, including the application of moxibustion* herbs, may help stop excessive uterine bleeding after your placenta’s been delivered. If you’re going through a quick or traumatic labour I may also use points in your hands and feet to help with emotional shock.
Acupuncture following birth
Following birth and in conjunction with herbal medicine, acupuncture can be used to improve your milk supply, help you cope with mastitis and minimise low moods and tiredness.
“Naava’s calm and confident manner rubbed off on both me and my husband as soon as we met her. Knowing that she was there to help and advise us and that she would support me throughout the birth really helped me to let go of fears and anxieties generated by memories of my first birth, allowing me to actually start to look forward to the birth.”
* Moxa is a form of herbaceous perennial (Artemesia) used in a process called “moxibustion.” This involves smouldering a small amount of the dried herb close to the region of the acupuncture point. The herb may be compacted in the form of a cone and placed directly on the skin, shaped as a stick and held close to the point, or may be smouldered in an enclosed box which is placed in the region of an acupuncture point. When smouldering, the herb has a distinctive warm aromatic smell. This herb may smoke, so in consideration of births which take place in a hospital or birthing unit, I use smokeless moxa except in cases of prior consent or emergency.