Acupressure is a technique which activates specific energy points on the body to facilitate healing. It has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, and is based on the concept that there are numerous channels of energy throughout the body called meridians. These meridians may become either blocked or over-stimulated, resulting in pain or disease.
Maternity acupressure is used mainly to induce and ease the effects of labor.By applying pressure and tapping into these energy channels, you may be able to move energy in a way to help ease pain and suffering associated with labor and childbirth.
To begin, lie or sit in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply and just relax.
Manually massage each point with steady pressure for up to one minute:
The first point used for labor is called gall bladder 21, or GB 21. It is located at the highest point of the muscle at the top of the shoulders, in line with the nipple.
The Chinese name for this point is Jianjing, meaning, shoulder well.
Gall bladder 21 is indicated for lactation, dizziness and headaches, as well as for difficult labor. It helps to move Qi (pronounced chi), or energy, and activate labor.
The second point used for labor is Spleen 6, also known as S6. This is about 3 finger-widths above the medial malleolus, or the bony protrusion on the inside of the ankle, just above it.
This too, is a tender spot on most people. In Chinese it is known as Sanyinjiao, meaning, three yin intersection.
Spleen 6 is used to treat irregular menstrual periods, infertility, incontinence, edema, headaches and insomnia, among other conditions. It is mainly employed for digestive or gynecological issues. It should only be used during pregnancy if the mother is full term.
The third labor point is called large intestine 4, or LI 4. LI 4 is that point in the middle of the fleshy part of your hand, between the thumb and index finger, on the backside of your hand. The Chinese name for this point is Hegu, meaning joining valley.
Large intestine 4 can be used for a variety of conditions, including: headaches, dizziness, congestion, fevers, intestinal pain, constipation, all types of pain, irritability, irregular menstrual periods and difficult labor and childbirth. It helps to stop pain and induce labor. This is a common point to use in acupuncture treatments.
Another point that is sometimes used to help ease the pain of labor is urinary bladder 32, or UB 32. This is excellent for labor pain, but requires the assistance of a partner or midwife/doula.
It is located on the low back, to the right of the spine, where the lumbar spine meets the coccyx. Again, this spot may be tender on some individuals. In Chinese it is referred to as Ciliao, or second crevice.
Urinary bladder 32 is indicated for impotence, irregular menstrual periods as well as low back pain and pain in the lower extremities. It maternity acupuncture/acupressure, it is used to help relieve pain and discomfort.
Precautions to Be Taken in Maternity Acupressure
Acupuncturist Kristin Planinz notes that the effects of maternity acupuncture/acupressure are not instantaneous, but may not actually happen until several hours later. Once the treatments are administered, have patience and work with your labor coach to remain calm and relaxed.
If you are really interested in a quicker labor induction, it is best to seek more conventional medical treatments from your OB/GYN, such as intra-venous Pitocin injections.
However, keep in mind that acupressure can be very effective in maintaining active labor, by moving it along, while at the same time keeping the mother calm and relaxed. It is generally considered a safe alternative to induce labor naturally.
It is best to receive these treatments from a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) or Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD), especially if you are unfamiliar with acupressure and acupuncture.
Massaging the wrongpressure points or performing the technique incorrectly is not only ineffective, but may actually cause harm if the mother is not full term. Consult a trained health care practitioner regarding the benefits of maternity acupressure.