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When it comes to pain relief during labor and childbirth, there are many non-medical options available that many women feel like trying to help them cope. One pain managing technique is acupuncture, something that has been an integral part of traditional Asian medicine for many centuries. What can acupuncture do for women in labor? Not a lot, according to a study that was just published in the obstetrical journal BJOG.

The findings were rather interesting. They are based on a previous study conducted by researchers from the United Kingdom and from South Korea, where acupuncture is incidentally still used quite frequently for all kinds of ailments. They found that among 105 women in labor, more of those using acupuncture (66 percent) ended up requesting an epidural than those who got "fake" acupuncture instead (56 percent). Among the women who had no acupuncture at all, either real or fake, 77 percent got epidural anesthesia in the end.

Now, I am not sure if acupuncture works for pain relief in labor at all, but these findings do come with a catch. What is it? All of the 105 women studied were first time moms whose labor was induced. Reuters reports this in passing, as if this small fact holds no relevance. But it is well known that labor induction with drugs like Pitocin result in labors that are much more painful than natural, non-induced labor.

A friend of mine who experienced both induced and natural labors described the difference: "When I was given Pitocin, I thought my body was being ripped to shreds! In comparison, my second labor was a walk in the park." "Personally, I do not think further evidence is required," said lead author Dr Ian MacKenzie from Oxford University. Well, we'll have to disagree on that one. Pain during induced labors hardly has anything to do with pain during natural, non-augmented labors. Our suggestion? Try again, with natural labors! More medical news? See artificial pancreas to help women with Type 1 Diabetes?

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