It is very common for us to be asked the question of “do you induce?”, as a general rule my answer is no.
Before you stop reading- allow me to explain myself.
Working as both an acupuncturist and a doula, it has given me a unique understanding of how the impact of inducing a birth (whether medically or with acupuncture) can change the birthing outcome- not necessarily for the better. It has allowed me to watch birth outcomes with women who have been induced, or women who have had birth preparation.
**Please note that this is based on my observation, not on clinical research**
When a birth is medically induced (most commonly with syntocinon- a synthetic version of oxytocin the labour hormone) it increases the risk of the cascade of interventions (the need of requiring more medical intervention- the last being a birth ending up in an emergency caesarean section). Because an induced labour is significantly more painful (as there are less of the natural pain relief hormones), more women will opt for pain relief (including epidural), which increases the risk of having an instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum extraction).
It has been shown that an elective induction will significantly increase a woman’s chance of having a caesarean (Read more here). In my experience this is also true for other methods of induction- induction being: the act of inducing, bringing about, or causing (dictionary.com).
So, how is doing a birth preparation treatment any different to an induction treatment you might ask?
The aim for a birth preparation is NOT to cause or bring about labour- instead it is to prepare the body and mind for labour. It is possible for labour to occur as a result of the treatment, but this is because the body was ready to start the birthing process- not because it is being forced.
Acupuncture is a much more gentle form of induction than a medical induction, though it is still pushing the body to do something before it is ready. If you think of a flower blooming- it is better to allow it to do it in its own time. You may be able to provide the right environment (sunlight and water)- but pulling the petals open is not likely to end in a beautiful flower (instead one that looks a little bruised and battered). As such we are big believers in allowing the body to go into labour on its own.
Some of the things that we aim to do with a birth preparation treatment are:
- Relax the mother so she is in the best frame of mind possible for the birth
- Help to release any fears or anxieties that a woman may be feeling regarding the upcoming birth (fear can either prevent labour from occurring, or it can greatly slow down progress)
- Help to reduce any physical pain that the mother may be experiencing, so that it doesn’t hinder her labour and birth
I recommend birth preparation treatments from between 34-36 weeks until birth. As a weekly session it also helps to provide time for the mother to connect with her child before the birth. It is often quite busy in the last few weeks of pregnancy, so having this time to lie down, relax, and connect with the child within can be of great benefit for the woman- and the child.
If it is medically necessary to induce a baby (I do not include going over 40 weeks in this category), then it is definitely possible to provide an induction treatment. Though so far, I am yet to encounter someone who wasn’t already in hospital who has a medical reason to induce. All babies will come out eventually!!
If you have any questions about the birth preparation treatment, please feel free to contact me for more information.