Acupressure is closely linked with acupuncture – it’s the use of pressure directly applied, and in some cases massaged to selected acupuncture points to achieve a specific benefit.
Originating in China circa 400BC, it is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine and can make significant impacts to your health and wellbeing, and really help your body adjust to the aches and pains you may experience in the third trimester and then use to prepare your body for giving birth, manage labour pains, and help improve labour outcomes, all without the side effects from drugs used for the same reasons.
Acupressure in labour is a powerful tool that helps you prepare your body for giving birth as well as helping ease pains and discomforts associated with the heaviness of late pregnancy. Some of the benefits of acupressure are:
- Calms your mind supporting hypnobirthing preparation
- Helps you maintain focus
- Reduces any anxiety and worry
- Reduces discomfort in pelvis, hips & legs (e.g. sciatic pain)
- Prepares your body for giving birth, helping to “warm the uterus”, prepare muscles and ligaments for stretching and preparing for lactation
- Promotes labour positively and can address specific issues such as labour not progressing
- Encourages your body to birth your baby (especially post 40 weeks)
- Promotes the production of oxytocin
- Reduces pain sensations and increases perceived pain threshold, improving chances of a drug-free birth if preferred or risks associated with having medication
- Reduce the need for intervention
- Reduce the risk of injury (tearing / episiotomy)
- Helps your body refocus: from growing a baby to feeding a baby and healing mum
- Promote lactation
- Support quick recovery, especially after loss of blood – acupressure can quickly restore the body’s blood reserves for healing
- Manage after-pains
- Support quick recovery
- Manage after-pains
Two of the points useful for acupressure around this time of your pregnancy, although can be massaged at any stage (even when you’re not pregnant!) are Yin Tang and Nei Guan.
Use this point for calming your mind, improving focus, reducing anxiety, frontal headaches and to help general relaxation.
Between the eyebrows, this point is also known as the Third Eye
How to find: using middle finger, locate the small dip in the bone between the eyebrows.
Close your eyes and ‘look at’ this point. Using the middle finger, massage with firm pressure, small clockwise circular motion
Pressure: gentle –> medium
Motion: circular rotation
Duration: 30+ seconds
On the inside of the wrist, 2/3 the width of your hand away from the wrist crease (toward the elbow) between the tendons.
Use tip of middle finger or thumb to get between the tendons and apply pressure. The point should feel tender. Alternatively, you can wear travel sickness bands with the ‘ball’ on this pressure point, if you are not feeling the sensation strong enough, you can press into the point through the travel sickness band.
Motion: Constant pressure
Duration: 2 minutes or until relief is achieved.
Post by Aine Homer
Aine Homer is an acupuncturist at Cranleigh Acupuncture and is leading a new couples workshop at the Mumma’s & Beans Mummas Hub at Smithbrook Kilns teaching acupressure techniques for mums & birth partners for late pregnancy and birth. She specialises in treating all aspects of pregnancy – from conception throughout the pregnancy and into the recovery from pregnancy including PND.
We extend our thanks to Aine for sharing her knowledge with us in this post. To learn more about complementary therapies in pregnancy visit the NHS Choices article Are complementary therapies safe during pregnancy?