Cervical Ripening

  • A randomised controlled trial into the effects of acupuncture on cervical ripening evaluated whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening and thus reduce the need for postdates induction. On their due dates 45 women were randomised into either an acupuncture group (25) or a control group (20).The acupuncture group received acupuncture (at two standardised acupuncture points) every two days. The women in both groups were examined every other day for cervical length (measured by vaginal ultra-sonography, cervical mucus and cervical stasis according to Bishop’s score). If women had not delivered after 10 days, labour was induced by administering vaginal prostaglandin tablets.

    The time from the woman’s due date to delivery was an average of 5 days in the acupuncture group compared to 7.9 days in the control group, and labour was medically induced in 20% of women in the acupuncture group compared to 35% in the control group. There were no differences between overall duration of labour or of the first and second stages of labour. The study concluded that acupuncture (at the points Hegu and Sanyinjiao) supports cervical ripening and can shorten the time interval between the woman’s expected date of delivery and the actual time of delivery.

    Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P (2001) Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term, a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr; 113 (23-24): 942-6.

  • A German study has compared the morphologic features and duration of labour in 878 women with at least 36 weeks of uncomplicated pregnancy after they received:
    a) active acupuncture (329 primiparous),
    b) non-specific acupuncture (224 women), or
    c) no acupuncture treatment (325 primiparas).Women who received specific acupuncture experienced significantly shorter labour times (470 +/-190 minutes) compared to those who received non-specific acupuncture (536 +/-200 minutes) and no acupuncture (594 +/-241 minutes).

    Cervical maturation was also more pronounced in the treatment group. The authors conclude that uterine contractions may be “better co-ordinated” in women who receive specific acupuncture, and they suggest, that prenatal acupuncture should be considered for women with uncomplicated pregnancies as they approach term.
    Romer A, Weigel M, Zeiger W, Melchert F. (2000) Prenatal acupuncture: effects on cervical maturation and duration of labor. Geburtshilfe Und Frauenheilkunde; 60(10): 513-518.

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