Acupuncture and acupressure can be used successfully to help laboring Moms with many symptoms. Acupuncture can be used to help prepare the body and induce labor if needed. Acupuncture can be used in the early phase of labor to keep Mom relaxed, decrease cramping and help the cervix open. As labor begins to progress, acupressure can be applied to specific points on the body and the pelvic area to help relieve pain, increase energy and alleviate nausea or headache.
Acupressure is a firm massage or touch on specific acupuncture points.
Acupuncture/acupressure releases endorphins, which are the “feel good” hormones. Pain can be greatly reduced at the lower back and pelvic region by applying pressure to points and squeezing the hips.
There are several useful points which can be used all throughout labor. My favorite points are Gallbladder 21(Jianjing, Shoulder Well), Large Intestine 4 (He Gu, Joining Valley) and Liver 3 (Tai Chong, Great Surge). Gallbladder 21 is at the top of the shoulder and helps to move energy downward and relax the shoulders. Large Intestine 4 is between the thumb and forefinger below the web. Liver 3 is a similar point on the foot between the big toe and 2nd toe distal from the web. Large Intestine 4 and Liver 3 are often used together to move energy and blood and relax the mind. The added benefits of these points is that they help with headaches and constipation.
A great point for alleviating back pain and pressure is Urinary Bladder 32 (Ci Liao, Second Crevice), located at the second foramen (hole) in the lower pelvic area. These points will be pressed and massaged over and over again throughout labor to give Mom comfort and relief.
As both a birth doula and an acupuncturist, I can provide Mom and Dad with tools to help through labor and delivery. A Mom who remains calm and grounded is more likely to have a quicker labor. A 2016 review of 13 studies showed that acupressure reduced labor time and increased the ability of Mom to have a vaginal birth.
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