Acupuncture may be a good alternative or complement to pharmacological methods in the effort to facilitate birth and provide normal delivery for women with prelabor rupture of membranes.

An excellent study, a randomized controlled trial published in 2006, showed that acupuncture can shorten the length of time to birth after rupture of membranes, and can lessen the need for other interventions to get labor going.  The study was conducted in China, but was published in a prominent European obstetric journal.  The following year, BMJ Updates, an online publication of the British Medical Journal, reiterated that “Acupuncture may speed up the active phase of labour in women whose membranes rupture before the onset of labour.”  These findings have been largely ignored by the obstetric community in the United States, even though acupuncture is safe and may be very effective, without the complications of medical inductions with prostaglandins or synthetic oxytocin.  Midwives have been more open to this option, but frequently have a problem finding an acupuncturist who is knowledgable and willing to try it.  Midwives in Portland, Oregon can refer their clients with rupture of the membranes and no labor to Catherine Lowe, LAc, CNM, an experienced nurse-midwife who completed a course of study in acupuncture and became a licensed acupuncturist.  For many years, she has saved women faced with the unhappy prospect of a hospital labor induction from that experience.

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2006;85(11):1348-53. Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin. A randomized controlled trial. Gaudernack LC, Forbord S, Hole E. Kvinneklinikken, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.