Acupuncture significantly reduces duration of labour and reduces the need for augmentation of labour with contraction-stimulating drugs. A study randomised 100 women with spontaneous rupture of membranes at term to either acupuncture or no acupuncture. Treatment was individualised on the basis of traditional Chinese medical diagnosis and used three points per patient from a pool of nine possible choices. Treatment principles applied were to increase energy, soften the cervix and open the Conception vessel. Although time from membrane rupture to delivery did not differ significantly between the groups, length of active labour was significantly reduced in the acupuncture group by a mean difference of 1.7 hours. In addition, significantly fewer patients in the acupuncture group required oxytocin (used to stimulate contractions) for longer than two hours. Medical induction of labour was eventually necessary in 15 acupuncture patients and 20 controls. When induction was carried out, women assigned to acupuncture completed the active phase of labour in half the time compared to controls, a statistically significant difference. (Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin.

(A randomized controlled trial. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2006;85(11):1348-53)