Many women want their labor to come naturally. Acupressure is one method that may help induce labor or speed up the birth process. Proponents of acupressure to induce labor believe that it works by stimulating the opening of the cervix and promoting good labor.
- 1 Understand acupressure
- 2 Use pressure points on hand and back
- 3 Use pressure points on the foot and ankle
- 4 Tips
Familiarize yourself with the principle of acupressure.
Acupressure is a form of therapy that originated in Asia over five thousand years ago and is an important part of Chinese medicine. It uses specific finger positions and pressure points along specific points on the body. Acupressure most commonly uses the fingers, especially the thumbs, to massage, rub, and stimulate these pressure points. But the elbows, knees, legs and feet can also be used for this. The pressure points should run along specific channels, so-called meridians. According to the philosophy of Asian medicine, stimulating these areas can relieve tension and increase blood flow. The popular Shiatsu massage technique is a type of Asian body therapy from Japan.
Know what acupressure is used for.
Like the massage, acupressure should also lead to deep relaxation and relieve muscle tension. This form of therapy is also used to relieve pain. People use acupressure to help with nausea and vomiting, headaches, back and neck pain, fatigue, mental and physical stress, and even addictions. Acupressure and other Asian body therapies are intended to balance imbalances and release blockages that disrupt the flow of life energy throughout the body. Many western wellness facilities and massage services already offer acupressure and Asian healing massages. Although many people still doubt the effectiveness of acupressure, many doctors, naturopaths and advocates of holistic medicine believe in the positive effects of this form of therapy. For example, scientists at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, an East-West medicine institute in the United States, explore the science behind acupressure, explaining the techniques and offering practical applications. Licensed acupressure massage therapists have received official training (either at special acupressure and acupuncture schools or at massage therapist schools). In addition to learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body, these training programs also include learning the acupressure points and meridians and the theories, techniques and rules of Chinese medicine and clinical studies. Becoming a licensed acupressure massage therapist usually requires a 500-hour training program. Licensed masseurs usually need fewer hours.
Find the most common pressure points.
There are hundreds of pressure points all over your body. The most common include Hoku/Hegu/Colon 4: Located in the fold of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Tai Chong/Liver 3: Located on the foot where the big toe and second-largest toe meet. Sanyinjiao/Spleen 6: Located in the lower calf area. Many acupressure points have multiple names and are sometimes expressed using abbreviations and numbers (e.g. LI4 or SP6).
Know when to use acupressure during pregnancy.
Acupressure is said to help pregnant women with morning sickness and nausea, relieve back pain and labor pains, and induce labor naturally. Although acupressure is safe during pregnancy, you should always use it with caution. Before trying them on yourself, you should consult your doctor, a midwife who practices acupressure, or a licensed acupressure therapist. Any pressure points that could induce labor should be avoided in pregnant women up to 40 weeks of pregnancy. Stimulating labor initiating pressure points too early can lead to complications.
Use pressure points on hand and back
Use pressure point Hoku/Hegu/Colon 4.
This pressure point is considered to be one of the most popular pressure points for inducing labor. It is located in the fold of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Pinch the fold of skin between your index finger and thumb. You should focus on the area towards the middle of the hand between the first and second metacarpal bones. Apply firm, even pressure to this spot, then rub your fingers in a circular motion. If your hand gets tired, just shake it out and start over. Once contraction begins, stop stimulating the pressure point. Continue once the contraction is over. This pressure point is designed to help the uterus contract, allowing the baby to lower into the pelvic cavity. You can also press this pressure point during labor to relieve pain.
Try the Jian Jing/Gallbladder 21 pressure point.
This pressure point is located in the neck and shoulders. Rest your head on your chest before looking for the GB21. Ask someone to feel the rounded bump at the top of your spine and your shoulder joint. The GB21 is midway between these two points. Apply steady downward pressure with your thumb or forefinger to massage and stimulate the area. You can also hold down the area between your thumb and forefinger on your other hand while doing this. Then shift the pressure down with your index finger for four to five seconds while releasing the pressure on your thumb. This pressure point is also used for neck stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain, and pain in general.
Rub pressure point ciliary/bladder 32.
This pressure point is located at the cross between the lumbar diamonds and the lumbar spine. It is used to induce labor, relieve labor pain, and help the baby lower into the pelvis. To find this point, the pregnant woman should kneel on the floor or on a bed. Run your fingers along the side of the spine until you feel the two small, bony indentations (one on each side of the spine). These indentations are between the loin diamonds and the spine, but they are not the loin diamonds. Press your knuckles or thumbs into the BL32 to apply sustained, even pressure, or rub the area in a circular motion. If you can’t find the indentations, measure the length of the pregnant woman’s index finger. Bladder pressure point 32 is located about a forefinger length above the crevice and about a thumb width to the side of the spine.
Use pressure points on the foot and ankle
Use pressure point Sanyinjiao/Spleen 6.
This pressure point is on the lower leg, just above the ankle. The SP6 is designed to stretch the cervix and intensify weak contractions. However, this point should always be stimulated with caution. Find your ankle. Place three fingers over your shinbone. Slide your fingers from the shin towards the back of the leg. There is a tender spot just behind the shinbone that is particularly sensitive to pressure in pregnant women. Massage the area in a circular motion or apply pressure for about 10 minutes or until you go into labor. Once the contractions have subsided, squeeze it again.
Try the Kunlun/Bladder 60 pressure point.
This pressure point is intended to help when the baby has not yet lowered itself into the pelvis. It is located at the back of the ankle. Find the point between the ankle and the Achilles tendon. Press into the skin with your thumb and apply pressure or massage in a circular motion to the area. This spot is often used during the early stages of labor when the baby has not yet lowered into the pelvis. BL60 is said to stimulate blood circulation and relieve pain.
Stimulate pressure point Zhiyin/Bladder 67.
This point is on the pinky toe. It is said to help induce labor and rotate babies in a breech position. Take the foot of the pregnant woman in your hands. Use your fingernail to apply pressure to the tip of the little toe, just below the toenail.
Contact your doctor or midwife if you have any questions.
If you’re concerned about your own safety or the safety of your child, wondering why you haven’t delivered, or have general questions about acupressure, talk to your gynecologist, midwife, or birth attendant. They can answer your questions and take care of your concerns. If you want to learn more about acupressure during pregnancy, find a licensed acupressure therapist. Schedule a visit and see if this is something for you.
You can apply pressure to pressure points LI4 and SP6 yourself or ask a friend or midwife to do it for you. Some recommend stimulating several pressure points at the same time or one after the other. For example, you can stimulate the LI4 pressure point on the pregnant woman’s left hand while applying pressure to the SP6 on the right leg. After a few minutes, pause and then switch to the other hand and leg. You can also include the BL32 in the switch from LI4 and SP6. You can apply pressure to these pressure points for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Every woman is different and has different pain thresholds for these pressure points. Only apply pressure to these points for as long as is comfortable for you. Measure the duration of labor to see if they come on at regular intervals. Use a stopwatch to record when each contraction starts and when it ends. The duration of labor is the time between the beginning and the end of a contraction, but the contraction interval is the time between the end of one contraction and the start of the next.
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