Q. I am a student midwife and have been tasked with presenting information on the use of acupuncture for pain relief in labour. I am particularly keen to find out whether an acupuncturist would be likely to consider accompanying a woman into hospital for this purpose and whether the woman would have to remain still. Also how do acupuncturists normally manage their sharps.
Any help would be much appreciated.
A. An increasing number of BAcC members now attend births at the mother's request to help her through the stages of the delivery. Most hospitals seem to be reasonably relaxed about this, and as long as the practitioner has the consent of the consultant or the midwife in charge, and of the mother, of course, it is simply a matter of doing one's job and keeping out of the way at key moments.
The mother does not have to remain completely still, but there will clearly be limitations on how much movement is acceptable when needles are in place, and a delicate calculation of how many needles constitute a safe amount when the labour speeds up. Rather than set somewhat arbitrary guidelines or rules for this, we leave it up to the practitioner to assess the situation and make their own professional judgement about what it is best to do. For most, less is more at this critical time.
All needles used now are single-use and disposable, and the majority of members use yellow sharp's boxes within their clinics for the disposal of needles and small items of clinic waste. These boxes are collected by regsitered carriers when they are three quarters full, and there are very clear guidelines which we expect members to follow. There are also very clear guidelines for using smaller transportable sharps boxes in the event that the practitioner treats away frmom their normal base.
You may also be interested in the (10 minute) video of BAcC member Sarah Budd at the recent ARRC symposium entitled "Maternity acupuncture in the NHS : a "MYMOP" audit" which deals with pain relief.