Acupuncture and related interventions have been considered as alternatives for pain relief for epidural labor analgesia. Acupuncture and related interventions were compared with meperidine consumption for labor analgesia. A randomized, non-blinded, controlled study found a decrease in the requirement for meperidine in the acupuncture group as compared to a control group with the same parity (Ramnero et al. 2002). Chung and colleagues applied acupressure as the analgesic for the first stage of labor (Chung et al. 2003). These investigators found that during the first stage of labor the patients who received acupressure reported significantly less labor pain compared to patients who received sham or no treatment. A recent study by Lee et al. (2004) performed a sham-controlled RCT to evaluate the analgesic effects of acupressure on the intensity of labor pain and duration of labor. These investigators reported that labor pain score during the first hour following the intervention was lower and the total labor time (i.e., delivery time) was significantly shorter in the acupressure versus sham control group. Therefore, available data indicate that acupuncture and related techniques may be effective for pain relief in the early stages of labor. However, more data are needed to establish the effectiveness of acustimulation techniques during the entire labor process.
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