As a labour tool I have been using Acupressure in birth for many years and have found that these techniques have always helped a labouring mother for relaxation.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure has been used for over 5,000 years in Chinese Medicine. Acupressure is based on the same principles as acupuncture but instead of needles I use my hands. It involves pressure around specific parts of the body, very different from a massage this method of relaxation is using the fingers, thumbs, knuckles and elbows applying pressure on meridians through the body. In acupressure, there are twelve invisible lines called meridians that run along each side of the body. The meridians exist in pairs, and each pair corresponds to a specific organ. Acupressure points are named for the meridians they lie on, and each is given a number according to where along the meridian it falls. These points have been tried and tested over centuries and are still used because they are so effective.
Advantages of using acupressure in labour:
Acupressure is used to induce labour if overdue, provide calm, relaxation and encourage labour if it has slowed or stopped. Applying pressure to acupoints during labour will reduce pain naturally, encourage the mother to work more consciously and confidently with her body. Stimulating points on both the lower legs regulates the labor by stimulating contractions. This point is also useful for treating insomnia and anxiety.
The sensation is strong but often relieving immediately of intense sensations. Acupressure in the low back can be a very tender point during labor and, therefore, it must be stimulated with great care although incredibly effective for relief of discomfort. Stimulating points on the low back helps to relieve back, hip pain, sciatica and pelvic tension and promotes qi flow through the pelvis.
When to start using acupressure:
If you plan on using acupressure during your labor, practice it beforehand and often. All the points are safe from week 37 on, but you’ll want to use less pressure than you would during your labor. When you’re in labor, you want to press firmly on the point. The sensation should be tolerable but you should definitely feel a strong pressure. Make sure you check with your midwife or doctor before trying acupressure.
Below is a video on how to use acupressure for induction and pain relief:
Kelly Maslen is a Toronto birth doula and hypnobirthing instructor. If you would like to contact her for birth doula work please use this link.