Researchers examined existing scientific studies of acupuncture and acupressure and their effects on labor pain. The research included randomized controlled trials comparing acupuncture or acupressure with placebo control groups. Both spontaneous and induced labor were included in the selection criteria.
The research finds that, “Less intense pain was found from acupuncture compared with no intervention,” for the treatment of labor pain. Also, the research found that acupuncture improved satisfaction with pain relief over a placebo control group and that, “Reduced use of pharmacological analgesia was found in one trial of acupuncture compared with placebo.” Of special interest, the researchers found that in 3 trials of 704 women that, “Fewer instrumental deliveries from acupuncture were found compared with standard care.” The researchers also found that in a trial of 322 women that acupressure reduced labor pain over a placebo control group.
Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management in labour. Smith CA, Collins CT, Crowther CA, Levett KM. Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, New South Wales, Australia, 2751.