Labor Induction Acupuncture: What you Need to Know

Dec 9, 2018 | ,

Acupuncture during pregnancy and to prepare for labor is something we do all of the time as acupuncturists.  I personally can’t imagine either one of my pregnancies without acupuncture.  Part of me wanted to spend all of my extra time and resources on baby only, but taking care of both of us during the process of pregnancy felt right for me and it does for so many other women.  So many of the discomforts and daily challenges of being pregnant were responsive and healed from my weekly acupuncture treatments, but I think the thing that really stood out was my labor experience and a large part of that I credit to making the time for self care and getting treatment before I was actually in labor.  There’s a lot of rumors about what acupuncture is really doing for labor so I wanted to take the time to clear up the two different approaches you can take.

Labor Induction Acupuncture: Gentle care from 39 to 42 weeks of pregnancy

Labor induction acupuncture is a gentle and effective way to start labor and is often used as a last resort before medical intervention is necessary. Labor induction acupuncture treatments are given between 39-42 weeks as a natural means to encourage the mother’s body to start labor. When medical induction is necessary, women who have had labor induction acupuncture usually respond better to pitocin and other medications than women who haven’t had the labor induction acupuncture.  

Pre-birth Acupuncture: Gentle care from 36 weeks through labor and delivery

Pre-birth acupuncture can reduce induction rates by 35% and epidural rates by 31%. Pre-birth acupuncture promotes cervical ripening and effacement with optimal fetal positioning in the birth canal, which effectively encourage the “on-time” onset of labor.  Research shows women who receive pre-birth acupuncture have shorter labor time, less need for interventions and feel more positive about their birth experience postpartum. Isthmus Wellness recommends pre-birth acupuncture to all of their pregnant clients who consistently report having natural and ontime labor that averages 4-6 hours along with increased energy and healing postpartum. Women also report less fear and negative emotions sometimes associated with labor.  

What Pre-birth Acupuncture Does Not Do

Pre-birth acupuncture does not prematurely induce labor. It does not suggest that the mother’s body is not doing everything possible to prepare on its own. It supports all of the natural work that the mother’s body is already doing.

Labor Induction Acupuncture vs Pre-birth Acupuncture: Which one is right for me?

Pre-birth and labor induction acupuncture are both beneficial.  Both support any type of birth-plan, goals for labor and even scheduled c-sections. Isthmus Wellness has consistently seen the best results with those women who commit to the the weekly pre-birth acupuncture treatments and the labor induction treatments if needed. We strongly encourage women to take the time to prepare themselves for the miracle of birth and enjoy the pre-birth services we offer at Isthmus Wellness.

Please go to to schedule or call 608-441-9355.  If this is your first time to our clinic, please select New Patient Labor Prep otherwise Acupuncture Follow up is appropriate for existing patients.

What if I am not ready for acupuncture or really don’t want needles?

You can still get the benefits of pre-birth acupuncture through learning acupressure for birth partners.  We recommend learning the course between 36 and 38 weeks and practicing it daily starting at 38 weeks.  We have now created an online platform for you and your birth partner to learn the course from the comfort of your own home.

Acupressure for Birth Partners


Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20.

Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6.

Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5.

Citkovitz C; Klimenko E; Bolyai M; Applewhite L; Julliard K; Weiner Z.  Effects of acupuncture during labor and delivery in a U.S. hospital setting: a case-control pilot study.  Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 2009 May; 15 (5): 501-5.

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