Acupuncture as Pain Relief During Delivery: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT: 

Background: Many women need some kind of analgesic treatment to relieve pain during childbirth. The objective of our study was to compare the effect of acupuncture with transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) and traditional analgesics for pain relief and relaxation during delivery with respect to pain intensity, birth experience, and obstetric outcome.Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 607 healthy women in labor at term who received acupuncture, TENS, or traditional analgesics. Primary outcomes were the need for pharmacological and invasive methods, level of pain assessed by a visual analogue scale, birth experience and satisfaction with delivery, and pain relief evaluated at 2 months postpartum. Secondary obstetric outcomes were duration of labor, use of oxytocin, mode of delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, Apgar score, and umbilical cord pH value. Analysis complied with the intention-to-treat principle.Results: Use of pharmacological and invasive methods was significantly lower in the acupuncture group (acupuncture vs traditional, p < 0.001; acupuncture vs TENS, p = 0.031). Pain scores were comparable. Acupuncture did not influence the duration of labor or the use of oxytocin. Mean Apgar score at 5 minutes and umbilical cord pH value were significantly higher among infants in the acupuncture group compared with infants in the other groups.Conclusions: Acupuncture reduced the need for pharmacological and invasive methods during delivery. Acupuncture is a good supplement to existing pain relief methods. (BIRTH 36:1 March 2009)

Keywords: TENS; acupuncture; labor; pain relief

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00290.x

Affiliations: 1: Lissa Borup and Winnie Witzer are Research Midwives in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby 2: Morten Hedegaard is the Head of the Department of Obstetrics at the Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen 3: Ulrik S. Kesmodel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Aarhus 4: Lone Hvidman is a Consultant Obstetrician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Denmark.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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