Inducing labor is a medical intervention that triggers the start of the childbirth process. Sometimes health care professionals recommend inducing labor when they believe speeding up the process will be better for you and your baby. Studies suggest that women who had performed acupuncture during pregnancy had an increased likelihood of getting into labour naturally, thereby reducing their chance of needing a cesarean for delivery. Applying acupressure is usually easy, and it can be quite effective in inducing labour when done by a professional. Acupressure can be a great way to kick-start labour without relying on a medical ‘push’.
Some of the most common acupressure points include:
- SP6. The point is located above the ankle on the backside of the lower calf. It’s about four finger widths wide above the inner ankle bone. Acupressure is applied by using your index finger to apply firm pressure to this point for a few seconds.
- BL60. This point is located on the back of the foot between the ankle and the Achilles tendon. Acupressure is applied by using your thumb to apply light pressure while massaging the area for a few minutes.
- PC8. This energy point is located in the center of the palm. Acupressure is applied by using the thumb on your other hand to gently place pressure on that point and massage for a few minutes.
- BL67. This is a different point that is located outside of the end of the pinky toe, near the edge of the nail. To apply acupressure, gently pinch your toe by applying pressure with your index finger and thumb and massaging the area.
- L14. Located on the back of the hand, deep in between the webbing of your thumb and pointer finger, it can induce labor and help reduce pain. To apply acupressure, apply soft pressure with your thumb on the other hand. Massage the point for a few minutes.
- BL32. This point is located in the dimple of your buttocks right above your intergluteal cleft. To apply acupressure, press firmly on the area with your fingers, massaging with a downward m movement toward the buttock. Repeat every few minutes.
- BG21. This point is located in the middle of your shoulder muscle above your collar bone. To apply acupressure, use your index finger and thumb and pinch the area—massage with downward pressure for a few seconds.
How Does It Work?
Acupuncture and labour may have a strong connection. Acupuncture can stimulate a pregnant woman’s body once she has completed the gestation period to get ready for labour. Needling can trigger her body to release prostaglandins which ripen the cervix, and Oxycontin, which generates contractions. The production of hormones naturally develops a gradual start of labour rather than a traumatic one, and the expectant mom is more likely to have a smooth and easy delivery. Some doctors like to call acupuncture “labour preparation” as it preps the mother and baby for the childbirth process by relaxing the body and activating hormone release, followed by uterine contractions. In any case, the therapy helps the pregnant women relax and feel good.
Whether or not you choose to use acupressure as a part of your childbirth is up to you and your doctor. Although there is limited research and evidence to show that acupressure can speed up your labor, that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. In fact, acupressure has no known negative impact on mother or baby. If the lack of research tells us anything, it’s that more research in the area of acupressure and its use during labor and childbirth is needed.