Please cite this paper as: MacKenzie I, Xu J, Cusick C, Midwinter-Morten H, Meacher H, Mollison J, Brock M. Acupuncture for pain relief during induced labour in nulliparae: a randomised controlled study. BJOG 2011;118:440–447.
Objective To assess the role of acupuncture for analgesia during labour.
Design Double-blind study of manual, electro and sham acupuncture, and single-blind study comparing acupuncture with a control group for analgesia for labour induction.
Setting A major obstetric unit in the UK.
Population A cohort of 105 nulliparae undergoing labour induction at term.
Methods Twenty-three subjects needed to be randomised to each group to have an 80% power of detecting a 50% relative reduction in epidural rate with an alpha value of 0.05.
Main outcome measures The primary end point was the rate of intrapartum epidural analgesia, and the secondary end points were parenteral analgesia requirement, labour length, delivery mode, neonatal condition and postpartum haemorrhage.
Results There was no difference in epidural analgesia between acupuncture and sham acupuncture, relative risk 1.18 (95% CI 0.8–1.74), or between acupuncture and control, relative risk 0.88 (95% CI 0.66–1.19). There were no significant differences in the secondary end points between the acupuncture groups and the control group. Side effects or complications of acupuncture were not identified.
Conclusions Using the protocols studied, there was no analgesic benefit with acupuncture for pain relief during induced labour in nulliparae.