Acupuncture & Natural Labour Induction – 11 Most Asked Questions

First and foremost… before you think acupuncture is an ‘alternative’ therapy which is a bit of hit and miss, bear this in mind: acupuncture is a 2000+ year old, repeatedly and consistently, tried, tested and documented worldwide practice. It’s a complete system of medicine – recognised by the world health organisation as a treatment for many problems and conditions. Unfortunately to most people, modern medicine is seen as the ‘gold standard’ and the most superior care in current society, which is sadly why we often don’t hear our GP’s recommending Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to compliment or replace medical treatments..

So, here are 11 top questions about acupuncture that we received at the BellyBelly Pregnancy Centre (now closed), answered by a centre acupuncturist, Justin.

Is Induction Acupuncture Safe For Me And The Baby?

Justin: Absolutely, and especially so in Victoria where practitioners of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Herbs, must be registered by and adhere to the strict policies and procedures of The Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria. A government body established to protect both the public and the professionals from (amongst other things) sub standard practices.

What If I Have An Existing Medical Condition, e.g. High Blood Pressure Or Gestational Diabetes?

Justin: Every relevant pre-existing medical condition will be asked after in your initial visit and will be represented in the diagnoses, these often respond very well to acupuncture as well so if there are early signs of such conditions we can help with the management of the symptoms. Acupuncture has been shown to be a very effective complementary medicine often improving the response to the standard medical treatment.

Is Induction Acupuncture Suitable For Someone Who Has Had A Previous Caesarean?

Justin: That’s a really good question and the short answer is yes. If this person is seeking to have a VBAC then I believe acupuncture should form a part of their strategy. As long as the baby is still in there it’s not too late to have a session. Acupuncture can be started at any stage and different Dr’s (CHM) will have different opinions and preferences. As it constitutes a treatment for the scar, I personally believe it’s better to get the sessions underway earlier rather than later if the option is there!

How Quickly Will The Induction Work?

Justin: Ah the 64 thousand dollar question, no one knows for sure, as we are talking about Chinese Medicine, the philosophy (not to mention duty of care!) doesn’t permit a practitioner to attempt to force something to happen. For this reason I think the term induction is possibly used out of context as we are not inducing or causing childbirth so much as encouraging the natural onset of labour. The stories you hear of mums going into labour in the acupuncture session are not so much because the acupuncture caused the labour but that the acupuncture released an energetic blockage that was preventing the normal onset of labour from occurring.

When Should I Start Having Acupuncture And How Often Do I Need To Go?

Justin: For the reason above, pre-labour sessions are the best way to approach a natural onset of labour, this is because in late term pregnancy things get a bit harder, there’s physical stress from a heavy bubs, sometimes there’s worry, people put themselves under extra pressure without realising it, less sleep at night and often a two year old is “hanging off me…”, it goes on and the cumulative effect is sometimes bubs stays in a bit longer. Additionally, too much stock is put into due dates, I don’t have an answer to it as it’s just human nature to cling to a date and then get concerned when it passes (esp. on the 1st one) but from a relaxation point of view, an accepting things as they are and building confidence and strength to have a baby, acupuncture is fantastic.

What Can I Expect At An Acupuncture Session? What About My Belly?

Justin: A typical first session involves taking some history (how’s the pregnancy been? etc.), lots of idle chit chat, a few laughs, a quick look at your tongue, pulse taking on the wrists, lots of pillows, lying either on your most comfortable side or propped up sitting, some acupuncture guided by yourself for comfort, usually somewhere between 4 and 8 points on the arms and legs. Then once you’re very relaxed, 20 – 40 mins of treatment time. Your belly is supported, no needles will go near there in a typical session (except VBAC of course).

What Should I Do After A Treatment, Will There Be Any After Effects Or Should I Rest?

Justin: After treatment what you do depends on why you’re there and how much energy you have. some will be asked to rest, others to take some gentle exercise, there may be an increase in the movement of bubs as they respond to your new state of relaxation, may be an increase in braxton’s its really on an individual basis.

How Else Will Acupuncture Help Me For The Labour?

Justin: The treatment principles I employ are; calm the mind (to get some rest), strengthen the energy (for when the contractions start), gently move the energy around bubs so they are inclined to drop into the correct position if not yet engaged, or if they are, to engage further, this moving of the energy also helps mums physical processes occur in a timely fashion. the end result being that when labour starts, mums ready to deliver and bubs ready to arrive at the same time!

Can Acupuncture Help Me After The Birth Of My Baby And If So, How?

Justin: After the birth of your new bubs your body has some adjustment to make, acupuncture can assist by again strengthening your body to speed up recovery, usually no needles for the 1st week or two post partum just ‘mother warming’ to put some energy back into the spot previously occupied by bubs, this is a warming technique that is designed to strengthen your Kidney energy after delivering bubs as it taxes this particular aspect of your energy a lot. Also letting milk down and ensuring good and even supply, help with any problems possibly encountered due to birthing from haemorrhoids (and yes, you leave your pants on for this treatment!) to exhaustion .

What About Herbs ” Can They Help And How Often Should I Take Them?

Justin: I believe Chinese Herbs can definitely help, they are not necessarily a part of your treatment, however they do form an integral part of CM generally, they are administered on an individual basis so if you need them, dosage etc. will be defined for you at your appointment. Please ensure that your practitioner is qualified to administer herbs and has experience in the specific area of expertise.

What Should I Look For When Finding An Acupuncturist For Labour Induction?

Justin: Experience in this area of expertise, association membership or registration with the CMRB if in Victoria, and the good news is that recently the establishment of a national board was approved which is great news for everyone who wishes to make use of this 2000+ year old, repeatedly, consistently, tried and tested, and documented, worldwide practised and complete system of medicine.

Acupuncture Feedback & Stories

“I was so skeptical about acupuncture until Feb last year when I found out I was pregnant and I had a huge panic attack and ended up in hospital as my heart rate was very high, I had severe insomnia, I could not drink or eat for 3 days and weight dropped dramatically. No matter what I tried I could not get my heart to slow down and was getting very concerned about the baby.

I found a great acupuncturist who was absolutely amazing and I will continue to see them for years to come. Within 2 months of acupuncture treatments on a fortnightly basis, I was able to not only control but actually get rid of the anxiety. I continued to see her throughout my pregnancy for different reasons as I no longer needed anxiety treatment. She assisted with headaches, huge break outs and morning sickness. Near the end of my pregnancy she induced me at 40 weeks (I was given a deadline due to a previous caesarean) and that night I had the show. My son was born vaginally on Wednesday night in a 10 min active labour.

My anxiety had alot to do with the previous caesarean and a death in the family. I continue to go to acupuncture every 3 months and it’s for pure relaxation.” – Daniela

Last Updated: February 21, 2015


Kelly Winder is the creator of, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.

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