Acupuncture to facilitate the birth

Parents magazine estimates that half of gynecology departments practice acupuncture to ease births. For 20 years, the pain-relieving effect of acupuncture has been known and scientifically researched in Europe as well [2;6;11]. As early as the mid-1970s, the first attempts to introduce acupuncture for analgesia in obstetrics were successful [3;4;5;10].

In Germany, acupuncture has only been used for obstetrics in the last 10 years. The great interest of gynecologists and midwives in this method is reflected in the lively participation in continuing education courses [1].

The analgesic effects of acupuncture have now been widely elucidated through intensive research [2;6]. Increasing awareness among patients, particularly in the field of obstetrics, is directing the interest of doctors and midwives increasingly toward treatment procedures that are as free of side effects and low-risk as possible.

Ease of birth – Reduction of pain

With the help of the analgesic effect Acupuncture can significantly reduce the pain during childbirth. There is also a significant reduction in delivery time [4;12]. In case of weakness in labor, it stimulates the labor activity. The episiostomy and the later perineal suture can also be performed painlessly under acupuncture analgesia[4].

Besides the analgesic effect, the psychologically relaxing and harmonizing effect acupuncture is particularly useful, as it improves the mother’s cooperation.

Birth facilitation technique

First, in the early phase of birth, the Psychically sedating and harmonizing points Du 20 Baihui, Ex. 6 Sishencong and He. 7 Shenmen are set. With these points, the patient can move freely or take a bath.

With the analgesic acupuncture to facilitate labor, it is started at a cervical opening of 4 to 5 cm or. with the onset of pain first with the important analgesic points Di. 4 Hegu and Ma. 44 Neiting.

Then Near points in the area of the lower abdomen or the back combined with important Distant points, which have a specific effect on the organs in the small pelvis [7;8;9]. The distant points of the spleen-pancreas, kidney and liver meridians on the inner side of the leg have a strong effect on the genitourinary organs.

Here one chooses MP.;6;Sanyinjiao – meeting point of the three yin meridians MP., Ni., Le. – and the analgesia point Neima on the inner side of the leg. Neima is an important extra point for acupuncture anesthesia, whose location corresponds to the point Le. 6 Zhongdu (7 Cun above the medial malleolus) corresponds to a large extent. Initially, these points are needled on both sides, but in order not to hinder the obstetrician, the two points on one leg are removed in the late stage of labor.

The two important remote points MP.6 and Neima are initially also electrostimulated on both sides with a frequency of 4-12 Hz and relatively high intensity. The intensity of the stimulation current is slowly increased until the patient experiences a strong throbbing sensation.

In addition to these two important distant points on the leg, near points in the area of the lower abdomen such as Ma. 29 Guilai, Ren 4 Guanyuan, Ren 2 Qugu or on the back Du 2 Yaoshu, Du 6 Jizhong or the bladder points of the sacral segments Bl.27 – Bl.30 selected. In case of severe pain in the lower back, electrostimulation is also applied to these points.

Intense electrostimulation is indispensable for effective pain relief [7;8]. Without electrostimulation, only a fraction of the possible analgesia is achieved. Therefore, birth facilitation without electrostimulation must be considered inadequate.

As a rule, one chooses as a basic combination two near points (z.B. Ma. 29 or Du 2 and Du;6) and two far points, Di. 4 on the arms and two remote points on the legs MP.;6 and Neima from. In case of severe pain, the stimulation intensity can be increased and a few more needles can be added.

For a good analgesic effect, the strong electrical – a pair of near points on the abdomen or back and a pair of far points – additionally manual stimulation (Di.;4;Hegu) of essential importance.

In daily practice, the good effectiveness of acupuncture in childbirth is demonstrated by its application in many clinics. To date, there are few controlled clinical studies that would scientifically prove this to be true.

Remote points on the leg

Extra Neima
MP. 6 Sanyinjiao Le. 3 Taichong Ma. 36 Zusanli Bl. 67 Zhiyin

Suture points on the lower abdomen and back

Ma. 29 Guilai Ren 4 Guanyuan Du 2 Yaoshu Gb. 21 Jianjing Du 6 Jizhong

Psychically effective points
  • You 20 Baihui
  • Ex. 6 Sishencong
  • He. 7 Shenmen
  • Pe. 6 NeiguanMa. 44 Neiting
Analgesically acting points
  • Di. 4 Hegu
  1. German Acupuncture Society Düsseldorf (ed.) (1988): Newsletter
  2. Han JS, Terenius L (1982) Neurochemical basis of acupuncture analgesia. Ann Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 22:193-220
  3. Lederberg CP (1976) Electroacupuncture in obstetrics. Acupuncture & Electro-Therapist 2:105-118
  4. Perera WSE (1977) The results of a pilot trial to investigate the relief of pain during childbirth using acupuncture analgesia as an adjuvant to active management of labor. Fifth World Congress of Acupuncture, Tokyo
  5. Pontinen PJ, Kalinowski J, Ronkainen H (1986) Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for birth pain. Lecture pain therapy colloquium, Hamburg
  6. Pomeranz B (1987) Scientific basis of acupuncture. In: Stux G, Pomeranz B (eds) Acupuncture – Textbook and Atlas. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York
  7. Stux G, Stiller N, Pomeranz B (1993) Acupuncture – Textbook and Atlas. 4. Edition Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York
  8. Stux G (1987) Acupuncture to facilitate childbirth and in gynecology. Course script. German Acupuncture Society Düsseldorf
  9. Stux G (1994) Introduction to acupuncture. 4. Edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York
  10. Tsuei JJ, Yin-Fun S, Sharma D (1977) The influence of acupuncture stimulation during pregnancy. Induction and inhibition of labor. Ob Gyn 50:479-488
  11. Vincent CA, Richardson PH (1986) The evaluation of therapeutic acupuncture: concepts and methods. Pain: 24:1-13
  12. Wiesenthal B (1987) Acupuncture in preparation for childbirth. Acupuncture Physician, Auriculotherapist 1-2:10-17

Author: Dr. med. Gabriel Stux
Acupuncture Center Düsseldorf
Island Street 34
40479 Düsseldorf
Tel.: 00 49 (0)211 369099