Data from the NHS Whittington Maternity Acupuncture Service, suggests that acupuncture normalises birth and reduces costs to the NHS. Records on over 6000 births from a two year period, were examined to quantify the effect acupuncture had on labour and delivery outcomes. The service is free to users, and women self-refer to receive weekly traditional acupuncture from 37 weeks gestation, as routine birth preparation. Data on women who received treatment was compared to that on women who did not.
Analysis showed women receiving acupuncture had fewer births requiring surgical intervention, and required less analgesia during birthing, fewer induction components and a shorter hospital stay. Women valued the availability of acupuncture highly.
Italian hospital and university researchers studying the use of moxa to turn breech babies, have concluded it is an effective and low-cost treatment. In a pilot study, 93 women in the 32nd to 35th week of pregnancy and confirmed breech by ultrasound, were given moxa to use at home once a day for two weeks. If babies remained breech after this, women were given an additional thirty minutes of moxibustion, plus some acupuncture, for three additional days over the course of one week. Cephalic version and natural childbirth was subsequently observed in 62% of all treated women. Acceptability was very high at 98.9% and compliance for moxibustion was 91.4%.
Researchers at the University Hospital Center Sestre Milosrdnice in Croatia, have shown that adding ear acupuncture to analgesics is helpful in managing episiotomy pain. A total of 60 women who had undergone episiotomy were randomised to receive either acupuncture plus oral painkillers on request (29), or painkillers alone (31).
Results showed that in the acupuncture group, women’s subjective experience of pain was significantly reduced on the second and third days postpartum, although they did not show a corresponding significant reduction in use of analgesics. No adverse effects of acupuncture were noted. The researchers say that the results prompt the question of whether current ‘best practice’ may yet be improved.
Migraine in pregnancy can be relieved by acupuncture, according to the results of a small Italian pilot study lead by the Women’s Headache Center at the University of Turin. Twelve patients in their first trimester were given six treatments over four weeks. Migraine intensity, nausea and vomiting episodes all decreased significantly over the course of the treatment period.
Researchers in Spain have shown two weeks of ear acupuncture significantly reduces lumbar and pelvic pain in pregnancy. In the trial, 220 women at 24 to 36 weeks gestation were recruited from 18 primary care centres. They were randomly assigned to receive standard care plus either weekly acupuncture for two weeks, non-specific acupuncture (at points not customarily expected to benefit lumbar or pelvic pain), or placebo acupuncture. A fourth group received standard care alone.
Compared with baseline, the reduction in pain intensity in the true ear acupuncture group was significantly greater than that in the standard care group. A similar pattern emerged for disability and physical health.