Saturday, October 10, 2009

Acupuncture for Caesarean Prevention and Healthy Delivery

Given the generous litigation latitude in Kentucky that is driving competent OBGYNs out of the state and preventing Midwifes from practicing in it at all, I doubt we will see acupuncturists in the hospital delivery room here anytime soon. With an unpublished C-section rate of 40% in one of our area hospitals and a total disdain for natural childbirth from many staff members (I have actually heard comments such as "there is nothing natural about natural childbirth" and "you have to push harder, I don't have all day"), I abhor having to tell moms to be that I can't help them out with pain management on the special day. With hope, there will be more advocates like Debra Betts who can help women have safe, healthy childbirth without having to go under the knife.

Oct 09, 2009 03:30 ET

Studies Show That Acupuncture Decreases Caesarean Rates

Acubalance Wellness Centre of Vancouver presents Debra Betts, an international expert, educator and author of the Essential Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Childbirth.

There are more and more studies showing that acupuncture can decrease the rates of caesarean delivery. This fits right into the new campaign launched by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) to 'normalize' childbirth and reduce Canada's soaring caesarean section rate."

The SOGC claims 20% fewer caesarean sections could be performed if doctors and hospitals followed guidelines aimed at lowering unnecessary surgeries and if women had support during labour.

Studies have shown that women receiving prebirth acupuncture compared to a control group had:

- An overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions (for women having their first baby this was a 43% reduction)

- A 31% reduction in the epidural rate

- A 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery

Breech birth, where the baby is delivering bottom-first rather than head first, is one area under scrutiny by the SOGC. They say that women should have an option to deliver vaginally with a breech presentation rather than have an automatic caesarean delivery. Moxibustion, an ancient Chinese treatment that involves heating acupuncture points with the Chinese herb called mugwort, has been used to turn breech babies for centuries. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that, at 35 weeks gestation, 75.4% of the babies in the intervention group (whose mothers had received moxibustion) had changed to a head-down position versus 47.7% in the control group.

According to Betts, acupuncture during pregnancy helps numerous conditions, including: nausea, high blood pressure, back pain and cervical ripening (which helps shorten labour), and can naturally induce labour.

One thing that Betts is particularly excited about teaching is acupressure for pain management during labour. "We know that if women can manage their pain there is less drugs, less intervention and far fewer C sections." says Betts. "What's important is that these acupressure points are easy to use, can be used at the beginning of labour by the support people, and that there are consistent effects. From my own clinical followup, 86% used it successfully in labour to significantly reduce their pain."

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