* Acupressure, which applies pressure to specific points along the energy meridians of the body. In a randomised, controlled trial of 75 labouring women, the duration of labour and pain were both reduced by 30 minutes of acupressure on the Spleen 6 (SP6) acupoint, located about 6 cm (just over 2 in) above the inside ankle, compared with just touching the SP6 acupoint (controls) (J Altern Complement Med, 2004; 10: 959-65).
* Electroacupuncture, which uses low-voltage electricity on the acupuncture needles to produce bigger effects, although a 1985 study only found “moderate results” with electroacupuncture for pain relief (Zentralbl Gynakol, 1985; 107: 532-8). A later study using electroacupuncture during IVF egg retrieval concluded that it was an effective drug-free way to relieve pain (Hum Reprod, 2005; 20: 728-35).
* Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which transmits electrical impulses via electrodes, brought about pain relief in around 60 per cent of the 209 patients in one study, as well as significantly reduced the time to delivery (Zentralbl Gynakol, 1985; 107: 532-8).