Labor can be extremely intense, which means that most women these days will be interested in using some form of pain relief during the childbirth process. However, there are other women too who do not wish to use anything to reduce pain – women who wish to take the natural route to childbirth.
For all such women, acupressure is a great drug-free alternative as it is not just safe, but effective too. Yes, acupressure can go a long way in easing the pain of childbirth and help women stay relaxed during labor.
The degree of assistance that is provided by acupressure typically tends to vary from woman to woman. Although most women find it rather helpful, there are some who even go on to claim that the effects of acupressure in terms of easing labor pain were ‘magical’ and ‘lifesaving’.
From what experts have suggested, women who opt to use acupressure consistently experience significant reduction in the degree of pain felt during labor together with a reduction in the length of contractions that they experience during labor. With that, here’s a look into how you can use acupressure during labor to make it through the entire childbirth process with ease:
6 The Basics
Acupressure is based on the principles of acupuncture, which is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicines. It involves applying pressure over certain points on the body. Just so you know, it does not involve massaging the body, but rather a firm, direct pressure to a specific area. For this purpose, you are allowed to use not just your fingers, but your thumbs, elbows, knuckles and even the blunt end of a pencil or pen together with other hard, round objects.
When it comes to acupressure, there are twelve invisible lines known as meridians that are believed to run along each side of the body. The meridians are known to exist in pairs with each pair corresponding to a particular organ in the body.
All acupressure points are named after the meridians that they are believed to lie on with each given a number in accordance with where along the meridian it falls. If truth be told, the utilization of acupressure can provide extensive pain relief to a woman in labor and it may even encourage a quicker, more efficient labor.
Practice makes perfect
If you wish to use acupressure during labor, it’s highly recommended for you to practice it as often as possible during your pregnancy. Remember, all the acupressure points are generally considered safe from the 37th week onwards.
However, it’s best for you to use a little less pressure than you normally would on these points during labor. Also, it’s best for you to check with your doctor or midwife before trying acupressure during pregnancy and childbirth.
5 A Relaxing Space is Much-needed
When using acupressure during labor, it’s best for you to do so in a calm and relaxed space. One of the best means of creating a comfortable space for yourself during labor is to make adjustments to your immediate surroundings and the area where you will spend the most time in labor.
The options available to you in this regard can easily be discussed with your doctor, nurses and even your family members and friends. Trust me; this discussion will go a long way in terms of making the space as relaxing as can be.
With a calm and relaxed space, it will be easier for you and the individual applying acupressure on you to do so without any stress. In order to create a relaxed space for this purpose, just adjust the temperature, lighting and noise around you in your birthing room. Having a low lit, quiet room is going to help you significantly in relaxing. Most importantly, it will also assist you in getting through a bit of the pain that you are experiencing.
It will help your uterus work
If a muscle is working overly hard, it requires significantly more blood flow so as to acquire extra oxygen and nutrients. Just so you know, by the time you go into labor, your uterus is going to be the strongest and largest muscle in your body.
Because of those powerful contractions, your uterus is going to need the maximum amount of blood that it can get. When you relax, all the muscles in your body are going to relax too, thereby lessening the pain you experience during labor.
4 Selecting the Point
For those who don’t know, Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is a pragmatic, rational medicine in which all treatments are carefully selected to gain the best possible effect. Most importantly, the selection of certain useful acupoints to assist in labor has been put through extensive research by experts. Over time, all of these points have been tried and tested, which is why their utilization is considered safe and highly effective.
The application of direct pressure to acupoints during labor will assist in reducing pain naturally. The best part is that it will allow the laboring woman to settle comfortably into the strong sensations that she will experience during contractions, there encouraging her to work through them more confidently instead of recoiling from and resisting pain.
The points that are typically used for acupuncture are also used in acupressure. For instance, the point Kidney 1 is used to calm down the mind of a woman who is scared and panicking during labor.
You may also choose to combine different points during labor in order to increase their therapeutic effect. For instance, combining the Large Intestine 4 and Liver 3 will help the woman acquire energy from all corners of the body, thereby facilitating the smooth passage of birth.
3 Plan Things Ahead and Decide Who You Want in the Labor Room
Before going into labor, it’s extremely important for you to consider who will be with you in the room during delivery. There are countless options for you to choose from. For instance, you can choose between a doula, a family member, friends, midwife or even the hospital staff. Apart from that, it’s also necessary for you to decide how many people you wish to have with you in the room and the different roles that you want them all to play during the labor process.
It’s best for you to avoid having unexpected guests in the labor room. Also, whoever you choose to have with you should be guided upon how acupressure needs to be applied on you during labor. The onset of labor is not the right time for anyone to learn about acupressure and applying it properly in such a case simply wouldn’t be possible.
The person you want with you in the labor room should be well-versed with acupressure by the time you go into labor. This means that the two of you should start practicing a few weeks before your due date so as to avoid any surprises.
One of the best acupressure points
The Spleen 6 or Sp6 is an extremely important acupoint that is believed to help women acquire relief to many of their problems. Also known as the Three Yin Crossing, it is the crossing point between the kidney, spleen and liver meridians. By stimulating this point, it will be possible for you to stimulate your uterine contractions.
2 The LIAcupoint
LI4 or Large Intestine 4 is one of the most efficient acupressure points for healing a variety of health issues. Most importantly, this acupoint is particularly used to induce labor and is found on the fleshy webbing between the thumb and the index finger.
Also known as the Union Valley, stimulating the LI4 acupoint is known to assist in inducing labor and in encouraging the downward flow of energy, and can hence assist in easing and fastening labor. For the record, the same point can also be used to alleviate headaches, dizziness, body ache, eye disorders, facial paralysis, deafness, menstrual problems, digestive disorders and abdominal pain.
GB21 or Gall Bladder 21
GB21 or Gall Bladder 21 is yet another functional and effective pressure point that is meant to assist with pain relief. For this reason, it can be used to ease labor pain. The point is located on the top of the shoulder, halfway between the edge of the shoulder and the base of the neck, right in the middle of the muscle.
The point is also known as the Shoulder Well and is also believed to encourage the downward flow of energy. Apart from helping with pain relief, the acupoint can also be stimulated to treat breast issues like breast abscess and mastitis, asthma and cough.
6. The Spleen 6 Acupoint
This particular acupoint is located on the inner calf about four fingers width up along the tibial bone. Its best identification is that it’s a tender spot, so finding it shouldn’t be too hard. In case your labor starts stalling, you can easily use this point together with the large intestine 4 to stimulate stronger contractions. If you have two supporters with you in the labor room, get one to apply pressure to the large intestine 4 point and the other to give acupressure to the spleen 6.
There are also a few points on the lower back that are extremely helpful for women who are experiencing back labor or are in the middle of an intense labor as they enforce what you can call a counter pressure. These points are found along the lower back region and can be individualized to the laboring woman depending on where it feels the best to her.
At times the point may be a tad bit outwards on the lower back. Whoever you have as your support person during labor, just get them to push into the points with their knuckles and lean in with their body weight during a contraction.
The Urinary Bladder 60 acupoint
The purpose of this particular acupoint is to increase circulation in the body and provide pain relief all over. The point is best used during the transitional phase of labor.
1 A Few Basic Instructions
It’s highly recommended for all support people to acquire detailed instructions pertaining to point location and the ways to apply pressure on a laboring woman. Once done, it’s best for them to commence acupressure in early labor so that the woman may become accustomed to tolerating the pressure that is being applied on her body.
Although you should refrain from applying the same amount of pressure prior to labor, experts suggest that you should do a few test runs with lesser pressure a few weeks prior to labor.
Acupressure points are best used in rotation during labor. To make the most of it, the support person applying the pressure should acquire the laboring woman’s feedback and work in accordance with her comfort level and tolerance. The points that she finds to be the most relieving should be focused upon the most. Remember, these points will be different for each woman so the two of you will have to work together to find these out during labor.
A helpful hint
In case the support person is not confident about point location, it is best for an indelible ink pen to be used to mark the acupressure points before labor begins. Once labor starts, the laboring woman should guide them as to what she believes is working the best for her. In this case, there’s a good chance that a little experimentation will have to be carried out.
Also, what felt best during pregnancy may not be the most relieving point during labor. On top of it all, the best points may also change depending on what phase of labor you are in so keep checking!