8 Reasons To Use Acupressure For Birth
Holly Brocklebank is an Acupuncturist, Transpersonal Art Therapist and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner who focuses on supporting women through their wellbeing, fertility, pregnancy & birth journeys. Learn more about Holly’s work here.
The Power of Acupressure
So you’re committed to natural pain relief options for your birth and have heard that acupressure could be a great option. Great choice as acupressure is a powerful hands-on tool where all your need is a firm and loving touch to experience a host of benefits. This 4,000-year-old tradition has your back!
I have personally experienced and witnessed the benefits in all 3 of my labours and through offering acupressure as a birth assistant at many births. From the time my contractions were more than I could just breathe through, I felt that having hands on my back reduced the intensity of my strongest contractions back to a manageable level. I have had 3 natural births without any other interventions or forms of pain relief and attribute it to the power of acupressure.
8 Key Benefits
- Helps to soften and dilate the cervix
- Promotes contractions
- Assists Preparation for medical induction
- Encourages beneficial hormonal responses for labour preparation
- Encourages the baby to move into an optimal position
- Pain relief during labour
- Calms anxiety during labour
When Things Don’t go to Plan
The path towards birth can present with reasons why spontaneous labour is not possible for a variety of reasons. You may find out that you need to be induced in the last few weeks or days of your pregnancy which can feel overwhelming. Acupressure is something that you can learn and implement fast! Acupressure is both a powerful and safe method for pain relief that can offer you a sense of control in your birthing journey.
Unlike some other drug interventions, acupressure is harmless to you and your baby. Pain is alleviated by decreasing pain signals from sensory nerves in your spinal cord to calm your nervous system. As you stimulate acupuncture points for labour your body releases oxytocin —the hormone that causes your uterus to contract. Acupressure can reduce labour pain according to research.
‘Women experience less labour pain and require fewer drug interventions when they use acupressure during birth. These women also tend to have shorter labours and less need for assistance during vaginal births.’
There is quality research reporting acupressure during labour reduced the incidence of caesarean sections (1) and the need for epidurals and caesarean sections when used as part of a complimentary antenatal intervention. (2)
Points that Promote Labour & Decrease Pain
There a key acupressure points that can help support the needs at each stage of your labour, preparation for induction, to help encourage optimal positioning, or at the early onset of labour. In fact a point like Sp 6 and Co 4 or can be helpful all the way through. If you need to prepare for induction you can use all the points during the days leading up to the induction date. Get your downloadable PDF here.
Pressure can be applied with thumbs, knuckles or chosen implements like wooden spoons wrapped in gauze or massage tools. I remember feeling that I wanted my partner to give me his full body weight and more if he could so don’t be scared to ask for it or to apply it… you may cause a couple of bruises at worst.
- You can use this point in early labour to soften and dilate your cervix and to encourage contractions after your water breaks.
- Helpful to ease after pains on it’s own or combined with Co.4
Large Intestine 4
- This is a primary point for alleviating pain.
- LI 4, combined with SP6, promotes more powerful, consistent contractions, thereby helping your baby to descend deeper into the birth canal.
- Provides pain relief in established labour.
- Combine with SP6 and LI4 to promote steady, strong contractions after your water breaks.
Gall Bladder 21
- Has strong downward action to help contractions move your baby deeper into the birth canal.
- Use if contractions become irregular.
- Promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety
- Helps eject the placenta
- Aids in milk let down or breast engorgement
- Helps to reduce anxiety and quiet your mind & ground
- You can have your birth partner massage it for you as you kneel hugging a yoga ball.
- Helps pain relief
- Can help get baby to turn or get into optimal position..
Finally, knowing that you have several methods to reduce labor pain can give you peace of mind as you approach your due date.
“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.” – Ina May Gaskin, Founder and Director of the Farm Midwifery Center, TN.
1 Smith CA, Collins CT, Levett KM, Armour M, Dahlen HG, Tan AL, Mesgarpour B. (2020) Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management during labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD009232. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009232.pub2 2 Levett KM, Smith CA, Bensoussan A & Dahlen HG. (2016). Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour. BMJ Open, 2016 Jul 12;6(7):e010691. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010691.