Acupressure in Labor

acupressure in labor

How can acupressure in labor be beneficial?

We will focus on two acupressure points in the body that, when stimulated, help to release the hormone oxytocin in order to start or augment uterine contractions. A common application is as a natural means of getting labor contractions started. Or to help erratic early labor contractions strengthen and become more productive. The points may also be stimulated during labor in the event that contractions begin to wane or decrease in effectiveness, often due to a long labor. (In this case, try feeding mom as well!)

Can acupressure cold start a labor?

It’s very hard to cold start a labor if the baby is not ready. This is true for medical interventions such as pitocin as well. In fact, it is counter-indicated to use Pitocin to induce contractions if the cervix is not ripe. Contractions may indeed start up but mom will be made very uncomfortable with little payoff. If it simply isn’t time for the baby to be born, most interventions are not successful.

Stimulation of these points is more likely to work if the mother is showing some signs of labor but her body just hasn’t moved into a pattern of active labor. So, for example, in a prolonged early labor, or an on-and-off-again labor pattern, or after the emergence of the mucous plug, or water leaking from the amniotic sac. Then, both natural approaches and medical interventions have an increased chance of success.

How does one use acupressure in labor?

First you have to locate the points, as shown in the video. You will know you are on the point when it feels decidedly unpleasant, sensitive, sore to touch. Some people report an ache or a zing. Watch the video for instruction on how to do the technique. Doulas can teach their clients to locate the points and sessions can be done at home. Nipple stimulation is also effective and can be tried in conjunction with acupressure.

Once you have located the points, use a fair amount of pressure on the point and hold for 10 seconds. This is followed by a 10-second rest period and then repeat the process x10. The point will likely be a bit sore after that, so then you can move to the other side of the body and from the legs to the hands. After rotating through all four points, you can end that session. Repeat 3-4 times per day, depending on toleration.

Warnings:

  • Moms are advised to check with their care provider regarding any potential contra-indications before undertaking this intervention.
  • Keep in mind that you do not want to be stimulating labor contractions if the birthing mother is not well rested.
  • Stop stimulation efforts once contractions start up on their own.
  • If you are pregnant and not yet due, it is okay to locate the points on your body, but do not stimulate them beyond that.

Watch the Video

Posted in

Patty Brennan

Patty is the owner and visionary force behind Lifespan Doulas. For 40 years, she has been a doula, midwife, educator, author, nonprofit executive, and entrepreneur. Patty has personally trained over 2,000 people to become doulas. She is the author of The Doula Business Guide: How to Succeed as a Birth, Postpartum or End-of-Life Doula, 3rd Edition.