Effects of acupuncture during labor and delivery in a U.S. hospital setting: a case-control pilot study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2009 May;15(5):501-5. PMID: 19432512
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to assess clinical effects and logistical feasibility of acupuncture given during labor and delivery in a U.S. hospital setting. DESIGN: A case-control pilot study was conducted with 45 parturients receiving acupuncture during labor and delivery alongside standard care. Primary outcome endpoints were incidence of cesarean section, amount of parenteral opioids used, use of epidural anesthesia, and duration of labor. Secondary endpoints included patient satisfaction and nursing staff acceptance as assessed by postpartum questionnaire, maximum flow rate of oxytocin, incidence of instrumental delivery, Apgar score, and incidence of adverse event. RESULTS: Forty-five (45) patients receiving acupuncture were compared to 127 historical controls matched for maternal age, gestational age, parity, and use of oxytocin (augmentation and induction were matched separately). Acupuncture patients underwent significantly fewer cesarean sections (7% versus 20%, p = 0.004). No significant differences were noted in other clinical endpoints. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of nurses reported a subjective perception of improvement in patients' comfort with acupuncture, while 83% reported that the acupuncturists' presence never interfered with their work. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of patients reported that acupuncture had helped them. CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture during labor and delivery is well tolerated by patients and medical staff. It should be further evaluated for its promise in potentially reducing the incidence of cesarean section.