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Acupuncture and Oxytocin: Not So Strong

So often, people ask me how they can get more oxytocin. Is there something they can buy? I often tell them to try acupuncture, asking for the "points forbidden in pregnancy."

The idea is, they don't want acupuncturists to go there for pregnant women because those points may stimulate the release of oxytocin, thereby causing contractions of the uterus that would expel the fetus before its time. On the other hand, if the woman is feeling that it's time enough already, needling those same points could jumpstart labor.

A new study found that acupuncture doesn't do a great job of inducing labor, reports Reuters

"Researchers found that among 125 pregnant women who were past their due dates, those who were randomly assigned to undergo two acupuncture sessions were no more likely to go into labor over the next 24 hours."

I would like to note that according to the article about the study, post-term pregnancy is defined as one that lasts longer than 41 weeks. My understanding is that the due date is a guesstimate -- although 41 weeks allows for a full month beyond when a couple thought they got pregnant.

Still, there is something to be said for letting the baby and the mother's body determine what's the right time. Still to be determined: Whether stimulating these points may cause a release of oxytocin that's enough to tune up the parasympathetic nervous system, whether or not it's enough to push a baby out before it's ready.

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