A study undertaken at two hospitals in Sweden has found that women who received acupuncture or electroacupuncture during labour, used less epidural analgesia compared with those receiving standard care. The randomised controlled trial recruited 303 first-time mothers with normal pregnancies. They were randomised to receive 40 minutes of either acupuncture or electroacupuncture (repeated two hours later and thereafter on request), or just standard care alone.
Although subjective pain scores did not differ across the groups, whilst 70% of the standard care group had an epidural, only 61% of the acupuncture group had one, reducing further to 46% of the electroacupuncture group.
(Acupuncture with manual and electrical stimulation for labour pain: a longitudinal randomised controlled trial. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 9 June 2014.)