Using acupressure to induce labour – does it work?
Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Who knows? Acupressure is an ancient – and I mean ancient – form of massage that originates in China. The definition of acupressure is “a form of alternative therapy in which manual pressure is used to stimulate specific points on the body along what are considered to be lines of energy”. There are people who swear by it. There are people who poo-poo it. As a massage therapist and reflexologist, I’m on the fence. I’ll tell you what it does do: it relaxes you, and when you’re stressed because baby is a week late and you’re facing induction, your stress levels will be sky high. Good things happen when you’re relaxed, so in that sense there’s probably some science behind it.
Disclaimer: you should only use acupressure if you are post-date (i.e. 41 weeks), or if you are already in labour.
Having a go at it any time before then is dangerous, so you’ll have to be patient. I know you’re fed up. Hang in there.
If you’d like to give it a try, here are some of the acupressure points that are recommended to induce labour:
1. Press gently but firmly on each point for a minute or so.
2. Make some small circles with your thumb or finger. You want to feel pressure but not pain.
3. After a minute you can release the pressure and move on to another point.
There is no particular order, and you should work the points that feel best for you:
- Gall Bladder 21 – this is on the top of your shoulder, in a straight line above your nipple.
- Bladder 60 – located at the indentation behind your outer ankle.
- Bladder 32 – in the dimple on your low back. Get your partner to do this one. You can even work both dimples at the same time.
- Bladder 67 – on the outside of your little toe, just outside the base of the nail.
- Pericardium 8 point – in the centre of your palm.
- Spleen 6 – four finger widths above the inside ankle.
- Large intestine 4 – on the back of your hand, about an inch above the webbing between your thumb and forefinger.
- Kidney 1 – the sole of your foot, just below the ball, in the centre. As an aside for when baby arrives, this is a great spot to work on baby’s foot. It calms them and and can sometimes work like a “mute” button!
If you’re post-date and you’re stressed, this will help you relax. If you work the pressure points during labour, it can help remove that feeling of “nothing is happening!”. Showing your partner how to work the points can help them feel more involved in the process, supporting you and strengthening the bond between the two of you.
When we worry about things, time seems to stand still, but if we’re relaxed about it, things seem to happen very quickly. Using acupressure during the last stages of your pregnancy or during labour can be a great way to relax and regain control of the process. Good luck!
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