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Keywords:

  • electroacupuncture;
  • labour pain;
  • labour time

Aims and objectives

To evaluate the effects of noninvasive electroacupuncture at LI4 or SP6 acupuncture points on labour pain and duration.

Background

The management of labour pain is one of the main goals of obstetrical care. Acupuncture has been reported to be useful for reducing labour length and for pain relief during labour.

Design

This was an experimental study with a control group.

Methods

The study was conducted at the Kayseri Maternity Hospital in Turkey. The participants were in the active phase of labour and were divided into three groups. In the LI4 group (n = 40), bilateral LI4 acupuncture points were stimulated using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation-acupuncture pen. In the SP6 group (n = 40), the acupuncture points of both legs were stimulated. The same procedure that was performed for the LI4 group was used for the SP6 group. The control group (n = 40) did not receive any stimulation. Visual Analog Scale was used for the assessment of pain.

Results

Duration of labour from initiation of the intervention was 6·2 ± 6·0 hours in the LI4 group, 7·2 ± 6·1 hours in the SP6 group and 8·2 ± 9·9 hours in the control group. Pain scores in the LI4 group were found as 8·0 (4–10) in the 30th minute after the intervention, while they were 9·0 (4–10) in the SP6 group and 10·0 (2–10) in the control group. There was not a statistically significant difference between the groups in terms of labour duration and pain scores measured during contraction and between contractions.

Conclusion

Although they were not statistically significant, labour pain scores and labour duration were lower in the acupuncture groups, especially in the LI4 group.

Relevance to clinical practice

Noninvasive electroacupuncture on the LI4 acupuncture point could be used easily during labour for labour pain relief.