Acupressure for labour is based on the same principals as acupuncture in pregnancy (in Chinese medicine), but instead of inserting needles, you are able to apply pressure to the body with your fingers or a pressure point tool (such as the end of a pen or a wooden spoon).
If you are looking for help with acupuncture for pregnancy in Melbourne, you may find these pressure points useful for labour too!
What can acupuncture do? Find out more about acupuncture in labour induction preparation here.
Each acupuncture point on the body has it’s own function, and below are the points specific for their applied actions through labour.
Much like acupuncture in pregnancy, these acupoints stimulate the nervous system and may be useful in helping to relieve stress, pain and fatigue through the natural labour process, during a c-section or in a medicated labour.
Why I suggest using acupressure for induction
There are many great points to use in acupressure for labour induction, for a variety of reasons. These pressure points are also useful for birthing partners to be able to help contribute to the process. As seen by their individual functions, these acupressure points are able to help reduce pain, manage contractions and calm the mind.
Combined with acupuncture in pregnancy, acupressure in labour could be a great tool to get you both mentally and physically prepared for the marathon that is labour!
Interested in acupuncture? Find out more about acupuncture in pregnancy Melbourne here
How to apply acupressure for pregnancy
Please note that this is not a massage, and we do not want to add more pain to the birthing mother. Therefore, a firm pressure held on the point bilaterally (both sides of the body) is best.
As this is not a drug but natural pain relief, it may take time and you may need to try the different points to find what suits at different stages in labour. You may even find that the mother will feel different things before and during labour.
You can hold for as long as needed and ensure you are getting feedback from mum, whether vocal or through body language, to make sure your pressure is still comfortable and useful for her.
Remember you can use your fingers, knuckles and elbows to apply pressure, plus use a tool such as a pen, the handle of a wooden spoon, a Chinese soup spoon, or whatever you have that does the trick!
What acupressure points are good in labour?
Shoulder point: Gallbladder 21
This point is positioned on the very top of the shoulder, about halfway from the tip of the shoulder to the spine.
This point is used to help descend, or as I like to think about it as the ‘eject button.’ Birthing partners are able to use firm pressure into these points in order to ‘push the baby down.’ ( This won’t actually force the baby out, so don’t be afraid to use this one!) Therefore, it is very useful to stimulate uterine contractions and when the mother is pushing.
Lower back acupressure points for labour induction
These points are on the very low back, over the sacrum, at the beginning of the top of the bum cheeks.
These points on the lower back are very helpful to relieve pain and pressure during contractions and said to have an ‘anaesthetic’ effect whilst pressure is applied. There will be slight depressions felt under the fingers at the lower back, over the sacrum.
If there is a sharp pain felt, you haven’t got the right spot, so please move around until either a numbness, tingling or aching feeling is felt. Then you know you have the right position.
On the hand: Large Intestine 4
LI 4 is located between the thumb and forefinger, on the meaty area between the fingers.
This point can be pressed by either the woman in labour or support person, generally with the thumb, which creates an aching sensation. It is used for general pain relief as well as stimulating contractions, which may be useful if contractions become irregular.
Above the ankle: Spleen 6
This point is located on the inner ankle, about a hands width above the ankle bone.
This acupressure point has traditionally been used to help the cervix dilate and increase contractions. Due to this function, if labour slows down or is not progressing well, you may hold firm pressure to this point for a minute, then again if 20-30 minutes if needed. You will know if you have found the point if it is tender to press on.
Below the ankle: Bladder 60
This point is located on the outside ankle, just a little back from the ankle bone ( close to the tendon).
Your support person is able to apply firm pressure to this point which is located in the hollow of the ankle on the outside of the leg, however, you may grip and apply pressure to the ankles. Bladder 60 is traditionally used for its ability to promote the descent of the baby as well as reducing pain.
On the sole of the foot: Kidney 1
This point can be pressed with either the thumb or a knuckle.
It is the main point to calm due to its relaxing effect, especially if there is stress or panic arising in the mother. Some mothers will use seasickness bands around their feet in order to stimulate this point when they walk, or to make it easier for a birth partner to locate.
When you can use acupressure for labour
For effective relief, it is best to start as early as possible in the labour and is said to give maximum benefit when commenced at the beginning of labour. These points are contraindicated (not advised) through pregnancy due to their functions of increasing contractions, therefore, do not start acupressure on these points until at least 37 weeks.
Although acupressure is amazing in helping through labour, it is a complementary technique and should not be used instead of western medical intervention if it’s needed.
If you and your birthing partner would like to find out more about acupuncture in pregnancy in Melbourne, feel free to book an appointment where our practitioners. One of our Chinese medicine doctors would be happy to walk you through acupressure in labour and acupuncture in pregnancy, so that you are both more confident going into birth.
Start practising acupressure for labour beforehand so that you are both ready for when the time comes!
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Original illustrations by Tina Young via Deborah Betts https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/media/cms_page_media/133/Acupressure.pdf