How long to induce labor?

How long should it take for acupuncture to induce labor? Does it happen the same day or while the needles are in place? 




Chad Dupuis's picture

It depends on your goal and

It depends on your goal and where you are seeing your patient.  Here in the US, acupuncturists are not often in the delivery room so the stronger treatments/techniques that create immediate changes are not used unless that is the case.  Treatments that I offer within my clinic generally stimulate some activity immediately but the stronger effects will be 6 hours to 2 days later.

I wouldn't recommend using some of the stronger techniques in a private clinic setting unless you are prepared to deliver a baby....



thereseparsons's picture

induction of labour


The evidence for acupuncture for induction of labour is contradictory. Whilst there are biologically plausible mechanisms for acupuncture’s effects there is no consistent evidence to support different treatment protocols or theoretical approaches. Acupuncture may increase uterine contractility either by central oxytocin release or by parasympathetic stimulation of the uterus (Tempfeer 1998). Electrical stimulation of sacral points and SP6 has been reported to be effective in cervical ripening and induction of labour (Tsuei 1974; Yip & Sung 1976). 
2 Cases
Case 1
Needles used were sterile single use disposable 1 inch, 32 gage needles. Each treatment consisted of 6 needles applied to bilateral points LIV-3, SP6, and LI4. Needles were inserted to recommended depths and manipulated to achieve “deqi”. Needles were stimulated with strong manual stimulation at 10 minute intervals. Treatment duration was 30 minutes. Result: The patient was treated with the same treatment protocol for 3 days. Treatment was not effective for induction of labour. She was admitted for an induction of labour on the day after the third treatment.  There were no adverse outcomes to treatment. She had a normal delivery and the baby was healthy.
Case 2
Needles used were sterile single use disposable 1 inch, 32 gage needles. Each treatment consisted of eight needles applied to bilateral points LIV-3, SP6, UB32, and UB33. The patient was treated in the lateral supine position. Needles were inserted into bilaterally into SP-6, LIV-3 to recommended depths and manipulated to achieve “deqi” BL-32 and BL-33 were needled to a depth of 1cm. LIV-3 was connected to UB 32; SP-6 was connected to UB-33 and stimulated with 30Hz electro acupuncture (intensity 3-6) adjusted to patients level of tolerance for 20 minutes on the first treatment. All the needles were removed after 20 minutes.
 3 hours after the first treatment she felt as if she began to have rhythmic “period like pains” and a show of blood and mucous. Treatment was repeated the next day (Saturday) at 3pm. By 5 pm she was having contractions 10 minutes apart, each contraction lasted approximately 30 seconds. She was admitted to hospital at 3.30am on Sunday. There were no apparent adverse outcomes after the first and second treatment. She was 10cm (fully) dilated by 7am (Sunday).
In these cases electro acupuncture (30 Hz) and a segmental neuroanatomical approach incorporating TCM sacral points that have been shown to stimulate parasympathetic nerves innervating the uterus combined with distal TCM segmental points seemed to be more effective than manual stimulation of traditional acupuncture points reported to be effective for inducing labour. Safety has not been adequately investigated. Appropriately powered randomised trials are required to examine the effectiveness and safety of different theoretical acupuncture approaches for induction of labour and cervical ripening (Selmer-Olsen et al 2007; Smith et al 2008).
Therese Parsons MSc Lic Ac
Selmer-Olsen T, Lydersen S, Mørkved S.Does acupuncture used in nulliparous women reduce time from prelabour rupture of membranes at term to active phase of labour? A randomised controlled trial. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007; 86(12):1447-52.
Smith CA, Crowther CA. Acupuncture for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD002962. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002962.pub2
Tempfeer C, Z. H., Heinzl H, Hefler L, Husslein P, Kainz CH,. (1998). Influence of
acupuncture on maternal serum levels of interleukin-8, prostaglandin F2 alpha, and beta-endorphin: a matched pair study. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 92(2), 245-248.
Tsuei JT, Lai Y. Induction of labour by acupuncture and electrical stimulation. Obstetrics & Gynecology 1974; 43(3):337–42.
Tsuei JT, Lai Y, Sharma SD. The influence of acupuncture stimulation during pregnancy: the induction and inhibition of labour. Obstetrics& Gynecology 1977; 50:479–88.
Yip S, P. J., Sung M. (1976). Induction of labour by acupuncture electro stimulation. AmericanJournal of Chinese Medicine, 4(3), 257-265.Tempfeer C, Z. H., Heinzl H, Hefler L,
Michele Real-Gibbs's picture

Induction of labour

As with case 2, these are the acupuncture points that I have used in the past, with electro stimulation applied to the points.  In all cases the labour commenced within 24-36 hours, with no harm to either mother or baby.