Can Acupuncture Induce Labor?

So you are approaching your 40th week of pregnancy and you and your doctor are ready for baby to come....but baby has other plans.  It's so warm and cozy in there!

What can you do?

First off, there are a few reasons why your labor is failing to progress.

  • If the baby's head is too large for the birth canal, (cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)), this will stall labor. If CPD is suspected before labor your doctor will assess the situation and often times regular (vaginal) delivery is still considered safe.
  • Position of the baby is another predictor.  It is optimal for the baby to be positioned head down facing your back.  (the back of baby's head should be toward the front of your abdomen).  This position makes it easiest for baby to pass through the birth canal during labor. If it is detected that the baby is not positioned optimally your doctor will make suggestions on how changing your positions may help encourage the baby to change theirs.
  • Another cause for delayed labor is lack of strength of contractions.  If contractions are not strong enough or too far apart this will certainly not help things move along! If your cervix is dilating too slowly or ceases to dilate, your doctor or midwife will assess the strength of your contractions to determine if this is the cause.  Typical medical interventions will include rupturing the membrane (breaking the water) to speed up contractions and/or administering a drug called Pitocin.

ANTOHER option.... is Acupuncture!

Barring any issues with the size of the baby vs. size of the mother's birth canal, acupuncture for inducing labor is a great option! Acupuncture has been used for centuries in Asian countries to naturally and safely speed up the labor process. 

In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, utilizing acupuncture for this purpose resulted in patients being more likely to go into labor without a medical "push."

Seventy percent of the women who got acupuncture went into labor on their own, compared to 50% who received standard care. The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean section -- 39% compared to 17%.  "We had almost a 50% reduction in the C-section rate".

Dr. Tara Pierce is a board certified licensed acupuncturist practicing in Newport Beach. Dr. Pierce has treated many women during pregnancy and helped many promote natural labor induction through acupuncture treatment.  Acupuncture is safe when performed by a licensed acupuncturist.

*Ask your doctor or midwife if you are a candidate for labor induction acupuncture treatment.


"A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for initiation of labor in nulliparous women," The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, August 2006.
Terry Harper, MD, obstetrician and maternal fetal medicine specialist, Perinatal Associates of New Mexico.