Acupuncture and Labor

by emjaybee

As many of you know, Jill and Tara are at the Homebirth Consensus Summit, which is why you are being treated to the very rare instance of me posting something involving research.

But don’t worry, it’s about acupuncture.

Acupuncture in Germany, to be exact. This study (PDF) was based on 409,413 deliveries between 2001 and 2008, which, according to the study’s authors, included more than more than 95% of all deliveries in the German state of Hesse during that time.

Acupuncture was only used in 3.7% of all deliveries, and other complementary-alternative methods (they don’t list which ones) in 4.8% of deliveries.

Interestingly, it was more rural hospitals that were likeliest to have women who used these methods, but also women with “higher job qualifications” which I take to mean level of education/employment.

Also, acupuncture and/or complementary-alternative methods was associated with a higher use of analgesics during labor. They could not find a meaningful connection between use of acupuncture and hastening the start of labor, or shortening the length of delivery, though there did seem to be some connection to more vaginal deliveries.

As a person who does not live and breathe stats, I’m not going to make any suggestions as to the meaningfulness of this data, or the sample size, or the use of comparing the experience of German women to Americans.

For myself, I’m not much on acupuncture in general, given that I don’t find it appealing as pain relief, but then, even if it only produces a calming effect for some women, that seems like it could be a useful thing in labor. It would be interesting to interview the women in the study who did use it and get their feedback as to whether they felt it helped or not, even if they went on to use other kinds of pain relief.

What say you, readers? Any experience in using acupuncture or seeing it used?

Emjaybee7 Comments