An innovative service is offered at the Whittington Hospital Maternity department. Acupuncture is provided for the hospitals patients antenatal care. Experienced practitioners from the Asante Academy of Chinese Medicine provide the service within the day unit at the hospital.
The concept was born eight years ago when Dr Amali Lokugamage, a consultant obstetrician in the unit, had been offering acupuncture herself, became unable to fulfil the demand.
Dr Lokugamage says "Acupuncture can be very effective in helping a wide range of symptoms associated with pregnancy. This service is able to provide drug-free intervention in the treatment of nausea and vomiting, pain and stress and repositioning of the foetus, and during labour itself can help improve contractions, alleviate pain and anxiety, and expedite the birth."
The project began as a three month pilot scheme with Asante practitioners and has since grown to be available 5 days a week, 9am to 5pm. The service is in high demand and it is common for a 2-3 week wait before the patient can start their course of acupuncture.
The service provides acupuncture for women sufferin from pregnancy related nausea/vomiting, Lower back pain, Pelvic pain and Sciatica. At the end of pregnancy a natural option to encourage labour is offered, this is called acupuncture birth preparation. The service is even able to offer moxibustion to try to turn a breech baby.
Dr Lokugamage at the outset, "One of our aims is to see if an Acupuncture service like this can reduce the caesarean rates as well as providing pregnant women with wider choice of treatments to support them during their pregnancy and labour."
Using the data obtained from the Acupuncture service, Dr Lokugamage has been able to show that women having birth preparation at the end of pregnancy staff at the Whittington hospital have more normal deliveries than women who don’t use the service, this includes less inductions and require less pain relief during birth. Dr Lokugamage is looking to publish this exciting data in the new year.
This project is an example of how complementary medicine can integrate effectively with western medicine within the NHS. Asante Academy of Chinese Medicine is at the forefront of promoting such projects, and has established several successful partnerships with NHS establishments, including pain clinics at Whittington and North Middlesex hospitals.
Dr Song Ke, Asante's director, says "My hope is that more NHS hospitals will see the benefits of being able to offer their patients complementary medicine alternatives. I hope this scheme helps to open the door to similar projects in the future."
Whittington Hospital Maternity Acupuncture Service - Patient Comments 2011
- “The Acupuncture service is a great asset to the department – A very relaxing experience. Will recommend to other pregnant friends” – Birth Preparation
- “It is very welcoming and nice to see that a hospital has alternative ways of helping. Everybody is very kind & friendly & I looked forward to coming for my sessions” – Lower Back pain & Pelvic pain
- “- Impressed at the completeness & breadth of service offered. Good that its available at the hospital itself” – SPD
- “Im very pleased you offer it” – Lower Back pain and Birth preparation
- “I am very greatful that it is available for pregnant women. I was walking sao badly before + with such pain. It feels that all is unlocked in my body” – Lower Back pain
- “I am impressed that acupuncture is offered as a service. I feel it is progressive of the Whittington and gives me confidence in the maternity department” – Birth Preparation
- “It should be offered. Very positive” – Birth preparation
- “Good. It instilled some faith in the hospital”- Hyperemesis
- “Its great that this service is available on the NHS. Ive found the place very relaxing and the staff are very helpful, compassionate and friendly. Excellent!”- SPD
- “It has helped me through 2 pregnancies, makes maternity dept seam very helpful as I know my friends are not offered this service in their maternity department. All my friends wish they had it, and I say I am lucky” – Lower back pain/Sciatica
- “I was very impressed by it being available. The staff have been very attentive and supportive and on every session tailored the treatments to whatever problems I was experiencing during the pregnancy- Migraines; stress; poor sleep” – Migraine/Birth Preparation
- “I think it is fantastic that the Whittington is offering acupuncture treatment for expectant mothers – it has enhanced my opinion/vie of the maternity department and would certainly influence me to come back for future pregnancies. Friends and family members I have told have all been very impressed that such a modern approach is being taken and that what has been considered alternative treatment is more mainstream” – SPD and Birth Preparation.
- “Positively great that its offered through maternity service” – Lower Back/ Coccyx pain
- “Very forward thinking of the maternity department” – Birth preparation
- “Really helpful service. I realise it didn’t totally eradicate all pain, it certainly helped. I would definitely recommend!” – SPD/ Back pain
- “Great resource to have!!”- SPD
- “Wonderful – feels like a holistic approach to Patient care, really positive image in the community about the Whittington + its maternity services” – Lower back pain
- “Been good to have as part of maternity department” – Birth preparation
- “Excellent that provided and available” – LBP/ Birth Preparation
- “Great! Really pleased that acupuncture was available here. Good to have a choice”- Back pain/ Sciatica
- “Great service and option for pregnancy as many women experience very bad back pain, excellent service, supporting your whole being”- Lower back pain
- “Its made me think the Whittington is a great maternity hospital that really cares about the wellbeing of pregnant women. It has been a huge help during my pregnancy”- Lower back pain/ Hip pain
- “It has helped me a lot. The only thing that was not so good that I would need 1 app a week and that was changed because there was no space. This made my symptom come back every time” – Lower back pain
- “Improved. The extra service is well promoted and organised”- Lower back pain
- “Good service” – Lower back pain/ Breech
- “Great, don’t have to take medicines that I don’t like- Alternative solutions” – Nausea
- “Really good. Progressive. Not heard of this service being available at other NHS hospitals” – Lower Back pain/ Birth preparation
- “Very Positive impact” – Birth preparation
- “Great. Never offered this at North Middlesex. Appreciated ‘nipping (pain) in bud’ by booking acupuncture and physio from initial booking” – LBP
- “Fantastic and free!” – Hyperemesis
- “Much needed for mental and physical wellbeing” – Back pain/ Birth Preparation
- “Glad its offered” – Birth Preparation
- “No complaints. Brilliant service to be offered. Its been great” – Pregnancy induced eczema/Rash
- “Really Good. Brilliant service to be offered” – Hyperemesis