Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for labor stimulation.
Methods: Nulliparous women at 38 weeks or greater were randomized to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or usual care only groups. Acupuncture points LI4, SP6, BL32, and BL54 were needled bilaterally. The primary outcome was time from enrollment to delivery. Secondary outcomes included rates of spontaneous labor and cesarean delivery. Medical records were abstracted for maternal demographic, medical, and delivery outcome data. ANOVA, Student's t-test, Chi-square, and Kaplan-Meier statistics were used to compare groups.
Results: Eighty-nine women were enrolled and randomized. Maternal age, gestational age, prior acupuncture experience, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, gravida, and history of gynecological surgery were similar among the groups. There were no statistically significant differences among groups for time from enrollment to delivery (p=0.20), rates of spontaneous labor (p=0.66), or rates of cesarean delivery (p=0.37). Rates of maternal and neonatal outcomes were not significantly different.
Conclusion: TCM acupuncture was not effective in initiating spontaneous labor or reducing the rate of cesarean delivery compared with sham acupuncture or usual medical care.