Dear expecting mamas and papas to be,
The last few weeks of pregnancy is a very exciting time. It is a time of "in between", a time when you are preparing and waiting for your world to change in an instant. The days seem to drag on forever and the messages from friends and family start rolling in..."has your water broken yet"...."any baby news?"...."I heard that if you stand on your head while chugging hot sauce the baby will just pop out". No...not helpful? Meanwhile you are waiting in anticipation with a million questions cycling through your head. Are you ready for the rollercoaster that is parenthood (or parenthood with an additional child)? Are you ready to give birth to brand spankin new human being? Do you have everything you need? Try to breathe. Do you know your acupressure points for labour? No? Don't worry I've got you covered.
Acupressure is an effective tool for expecting parents during labour to help relieve pain and help labour to progress efficiently. Understanding how acupressure points can assist you in labour empowers you to play a role in pain management and the promotion of consistent contractions. It is important that you begin to use acupressure in the early stages of labour in order to reap the most benefit. Acupressure requires firm consistent pressure with constant feedback from the labouring woman about the points she prefers and the amount of pressure she feels comfortable with. It is important to understand that these points are NOT TO BE USED before labour commences unless you have been specifically given a protocol by your acupuncturist.
Gallbladder 21 is an excellent point for both encouraging contractions as well as pain relief in labour. This point lies half way between cervical vertebrae 7 at the base of the neck and the acromion process at the tip of the shoulder. The point can be found in the center of the highest point in the muscle of the shoulder. The support person applies a downward pressure with the thumbs or elbows. This point is useful in the first stages of labour.
Bladder 32 is a commonly used acupressure point for pain during labour if the woman is kneeling and resting her arms on a bed or the wall. The point can be found in the second sacral foramen halfway between the dimples of the buttock and the end of the spine. You will be able to feel four depressions on each side and it is the second depression which is found to be most effective. The support person applies pressure firmly with the knuckles.
Kidney 1 is a very grounding and calming point. This point is useful for a woman during labour who is panicking or who has had a previous traumatic birthing experience and needs to be soothed. You can located this point on the sole of the foot between the bones of the big toe and second toe, 1/3 of the distance between the heel and the base of the toes. The support person should press this point firmly with thumb or knuckle. It is most easily done with the woman in a kneeling position.
If you would like to delve deeper into these and more acupressure points I recommend that you book a session with your acupuncturist for you and your support person to specifically go over using acupressure during labour. This will allow you to gain more knowledge on how and when to use the points and to practice point location. I also suggest printing off the acupressure for labour resources created by Debra Betts and having them in your birth bag a few weeks prior to your due date.
Betts, Debra. “Natural Pain Relief Techniques for childbirth using Acupressure, Promoting a natural labour and partner involvement.” 2003.
Betts, Debra. The essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth. The Journal of Chinese Medicine Ltd. and Debra Betts, 2006.
Deadman, Peter, et al. A manual of acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2011.
Malakai Button is a Registered Acupuncturist in good standing with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia. Passionate about helping women struggling with hormonal and reproductive issues, she focuses on helping women achieve hormonal balance and healthy pregnancies. She offers her home based acupuncture studio in Victoria, BC as a place for you to cultivate wellness and reconnect with your body's innate healing capacity.