Chinese Medicine Basics

In Chinese Medicine theory, labour is expected to commence when three factors occur simultaneously:

  1. Yang activity replaces yin material growth
  2. Qi flow freely and moves blood
  3. The door of uterus opens

When qi lows correctly and the blood circulates well, a harmonious labour follows with the onset of contractions, dilation of the cervix, rupture of the waters ad expulsion of the foetus. The following acupuncture points can promote labour: Hegu LI4, Sanyinjiao SP6 and Ciliao BL32. Please visit patient resource session for acupressure guidelines written by Dr Debra Betts.   


Included studies ranged from high to low quality evidence (Smith 2013 – Cochrane update with 14 RCTs)(1)

Acupressure may reduce the duration of labour especially the first stage;

Weak positive evidence indicate the effect of acupuncture for induction of labour(Mollart 2015 – SR of 7 RCTs)(2).

Acupuncture & Acupressure ‘promising’ in pain management during induction of labour – Conflicting results due to heterogeneity in study designs, research questions, treatment protocols and outcomes measures (Levett 2014 – Review of SRs)(3)


1. Smith CA, Crowther CA, Grant SJ. Acupuncture for induction of labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013(8):Cd002962.

2. Mollart LJ, Adam J, Foureur M. Impact of acupressure on onset of labour and labour duration: A systematic review. Women Birth. 2015 Sep;28(3):199-206. 3. Levett KM, Smith CA, Dahlen HG, Bensoussan A. Acupuncture and acupressure for pain management in labour  and birth: a critical narrative review of current systematic review evidence. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Jun;22(3):523-40.