'Induction' - Acupuncture to Encourage Spontaneous Onset of labour
“My consultant was concerned about my baby being too big and was really pressuring me to have a medical induction at 39 weeks. I was so reluctant, I really did not wish to be induced. I came to see Jani and not only did she help to really calm me down, she gave me three treatments that resulted in a completely normal vaginal delivery - of a 10 pound baby boy - no tears and no complications. What a result!” ~ LM, Notting Hill
These final days of waiting-on-tenterhooks for your labour to begin can be a tense time.
Helping you into a calm and happily expectant frame of mind is our foremost ambition and we are here to in every way help you look forward to the delivery of your baby with a gentle patience and abiding anticipation.
Spontaneous onset is indeed the very best way to begin your labour.
How Acupuncture can Help
Using acupuncture to help synergise your labour is all about helping the sinews to relax and open the hips, widening the pelvis, helping the baby to descend, helping to ripen and align the cervix, and very much about helping to influence the best possible alignment for ‘optimal foetal positioning’ - a good alignment between baby’s head and your cervix is one of the all important triggers to setting off those hormonal cascades.
Our induction appointments are 1 hour long, and after a careful history taking, we apply a very bespoke combination of needles that are particular to what you may need. Our induction work here at the AcuHouse is not done by standardised protocol needle combinations, we will always strive to ensure we are using just the right points for your particular circumstances.
Please bring your maternity notes when you come to us as it helps us to ascertain from your records if there is anything we should be aware of, and allows us to look at the overall picture of your antenatal appointment records, plus any notes that may relate to a vaginal examination that helps to give us a clear understanding of the state of the cervix.
This is very helpful information indeed and will assist us to be sure to use points which are specifically directed according to the description of the condition of your cervix. If you have not yet had, or do not wish to have a vaginal examination - no worries - it is not essential. Whatever information you do have is more than enough to help us to make sure we are applying just the right treatment.
We believe that acupuncture goes very well indeed with a ‘Stretch & Sweep’ so there is no reason to be concerned about mixing and matching the acupuncture with this procedure. Having the acupuncture in proximity to a sweep is very beneficial.
Our induction sessions are filled with lots of top tips for things you can do to ease things on their way, and we will show how you can use acupressure at home to continue the the treatment between the needles and the labour.
We usually recommend that you might wish to try consecutive sessions, every other day, sometimes every day depending on the circumstances. Acupuncture works cumulatively and there is much benefit in repeated sessions.
We also have a home visit service for Central and North London, so this may be an option for you to request if travelling is a problem for you.
This service is pending availability, and call-out charges do apply according to travel time and distance.
If you need a home visit in other parts of London do please ask, and we shall do our very best to see if it is possible to get one of our practitioners to your area.
Encouraging Spontaneous Onset of Labour
We're not really big fans of the phrase ‘acupuncture induction’ as what we are fundamentally doing with the needles is actually helping to encourage ‘spontaneous onset of labour’. Babies come when they are cooked, and we foster a very respectful patience about helping to encourage your labour to begin when everything is properly aligned.
Acupuncture is all about stimulating that magic moment when both the maternal and foetal bodies will key into all the myriad of hormonal and positional alignments that exactly set things in motion at exactly the right moment.
This is central to why so many women feel such an innate reluctance about being induced - intervention cascade aside - every woman intuitively knows that a spontaneous onset is because EVERYTHING is ready, and that to pre-empt this can mean the labour may end up being more protracted (longer) and potentially more difficult should a medical induction pressurise movement before that optimum alignment is in place.
Many women feel very concerned about having a medical induction and the potential of a resultant intervention cascade that may necessarily then require increased medical management.
We use the acupuncture to help you into that welcoming Oxytocin cascade of hormones, to help with the ripening of the cervix, to help the baby to descend in good alignment with the cervix, and to in every way help you enter into your labour feeling calm and in control.
Acupuncture can help to encourage the spontaneous onset of labour to help your labour take it’s own natural course.
Oxytocin Stimulates the Onset of Labour
The thing which helps a labour to begin is the marvellous myriad of all the things that need to be in alignment for the labour cascade to kick in, both hormonally and physically. When the baby is well descended into the pelvic rim, when the cervix is fully effaced and ripe, when the all-important alignment of the baby’s head to the cervix is well placed to bring the necessary pressure to facilitate an efficient dilation - then labour will most certainly begin - it is an inevitable factor, you WILL go into labour!
First and foremost is the need for you to be in the parasympathetic aspect of your autonomic nervous system in order for the oxytocin cascade to be able to start the hormonal waterfall that stimulates the uterus to begin contracting. Parasympathetic, the ‘rest and digest’ mode, happens when we feel calm and relaxed.
Sympathetic is the opposite. This our adrenal-led complex that puts us in ‘flight or fight’ mode - not a state that will easily engender onset of labour. Adrenaline responses will block oxytocin.
Our first approach to helping you into labour is to help ensure that you are in the calm frame of mind that women need for labouring. When we are feeling nervous, upset, tense or worried then this will key us into our sympathetic, which necessarily then blocks our oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the ‘Love’ hormone, the one that gives you that delicious satiated feeling after lovely lovemaking. It is the oxytocin that is the lead hormone for all the desire that led to this pregnancy in the first place, and it is the key to opening the door to labour.
It is fair to say that many women are very concerned about having medical induction. All too often women can become very upset and worried when they go over their due date and many may begin to fret and worry that they might need to have a medical induction. Often as not it is simply this tension alone that is stalling the onset of labour. Fear and worry block oxytocin.
So what exactly does 'Overdue' mean?
The average gestation of Northern European women is 41 weeks. Your full term is from 37 to 42 weeks and your baby should happily make an appearance anytime across that 5 week span. The EDD (estimated due date) in the UK is calculated for 40 weeks as the midpoint of full term, so please feel very reassured that you will not be ‘overdue’ until fully 42 weeks.
The EDD can play havoc with our peace of mind if we have geared ourselves to believe that this is when the baby is ‘due’. The reality is that only 3% of babies come on their due date - which means that fully 97% don’t! Most babies do come at some point during week 41.
In addition to all that we can do to help bring you into a calm and relaxed frame of mind and heart, we have many acupoints that we can use to help encourage your body to move into it’s own natural labour cascades.
Cascade is a very important word when we are looking at the physiology of labour. This is the tumble of one hormone triggering another and another and another, as your body releases all the hormones that send your uterus into contractions that begin the processes of delivering your baby.
But did you know that the first thing that really sets off the labour actually happens in the foetal body, as the baby’s systems key the release of a protein that triggers the steroids that will help the lungs to inflate on arrival, and also sets up the hormonal complexes that will help your babe to produce the endorphins that will keep baby calm throughout the labouring process.
As the baby’s hormones go through this change this sends a message to the maternal body that triggers the oxytocin cascades - and hey presto, away we go! Labour begins as a symbiotic hormonal conversation between the foetal and maternal bodies.
Labour is a very natural process, and left to it’s own devices the wisdom of our bodies will always take us into labour. It is a necessary fact that the protocols within western management needs must have carefully constructed timelines to guideline practice, and it is often the conflict between these imposed timelines and the instinctive schedule of you and your baby that causes all this tension.
The Importance of Medical Management
Let us be very clear to reassure you that most maternity management these days fully respects that unless there is evidence that a medical induction would be the safest course of action then your midwifery team and your consultants will be relaxed about leaving the need to consider induction right up until the end of your full term at 42 weeks.
As long as your blood pressure is in normal range, your urines are not testing positive for proteins, if the baby’s heart rate is normal, if the amniotic pool depth is sufficient, and all your vitals are in normal range then there is no clear evidence that anything is necessarily indicating a need for induction.
It goes without saying that with any higher risk indications the guidance of your medical team is our foremost concern. Here at the AcuHouse we have a very solid post-graduate training in understanding medical management and maternity protocols and procedures. Should there be any concerning signs we are adept at understanding if it is safe to use acupuncture, always with the guidance of your medical team, and we are here to support the best and safest management to help ensure a safe delivery.
Sometimes medical induction is an important and useful tool, and we are absolutely able to use the acupuncture to help prepare you for a medical induction. Should this be the necessary management for your labour then we encourage you to have acupuncture in the days before your induction as a good preparation to help your body receive the prostaglandin gel and/or syntocinon. During these sessions we will be able to offer you lots of advice about how you can make a medical induction a much more cohesive and calm experience for you, teaching you many top tips for how to maintain an active and effective labour, even when you are all rigged up!
Our Director Jani White has extensive experience working with high risk pregnancies and she is available for consultation at any AcuHouse induction treatment to oversee and ensure the best possible fluency of support between the acupuncture and your medical management.
Our ambition is for you to have the smoothest most appropriate labour possible, and here at the AcuHouse we are geared and ready to help you help that baby along.