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Acupressure during labour

Acupressure during labour

Acupressure during labour involves stimulating certain points of the body with focused pressure and dates back as far as 5000 years ago. It is a successful tool to help relieve pain in labouring women. In more recent times, Western culture has accepted and applied these eastern medicine techniques more freely.

Acu or *Ak from the PIE root meaning ‘be sharp, rise (out) to a point + Pressure in reference to the oriental body therapy also known as shiatsu ( said to literally mean “finger-pressure” in Japanese.

Acupressure involves applying pressure to certian trigger points on the meridian line. During pregnancy this can have many effects. These include aiding cervical dilation, stimulating uterine contractions, inducing our labour’s and helping to aid labour. It is thought that this is most likely by increasing the flow of our hormones.

Acupressure may be used on each point for 5 minutes every 1-2 hours during early or active labour. Use your fingers, knuckles, elbows, the blunt end of a pencil or round object-like. a tennis ball.


***Please note that by “firm pressure,” I mean constant, consistent pressure – not massage or rubbing. However, if the mother finds rubbing or massage to be more comfortable, it is okay to alternate that motion along with consistent pressure.

Using acupressure as a tool during labour

It’s important to practice this modality well before the delivery. All the points are safe from 37 weeks on. Simply apply less pressure than you would while practising than in actual labour.

When it’s time and labour has begun, we suggest you press firmly on the point. This result in feeling a sensation that is tolerable but strong. For the accupressure to work best it’s important to start the technique early in labour. Continue to apply the acupressure in regular intervals to help succesfully manage the intensity of the labour surges. In our birthing course, we teach other techniques such as the endorphin release massage. In combination, it is a great recipe for a really wonderful hands on approach to birth. These combine to engage the birth partner to be by your side. They can administer the pain relief tools to bring you more comfort throughout the labour. It also brings them comfort knowing you are doing well with their loving touches while creating a bonding experience.

Example of acupressure during labour

In our image, we see parents in ‘The birth weekender course‘ locating the best acupressure points to help strengthen surges and offer pain relief. During the classes, we learn these points on the body for future use.

This particular point is known as Hegu. Hegu means ‘joining valley’ and is located on the back of the hand. It is deep between the webbing of your thumb and pointer finger. It activates the liver and is called the LI 4 for Large Intestine. Many are familiar with as a quick fix for headaches. You can apply a little diluted peppermint on the temples, a heat pack over the eyes and press down on these while resting if you are having a severe headache during pregnancy. This can help aid through while we can’t opt for the pain medication so quickly.

More resources

You can find more practical information on these points by booking into ‘The Birth Weekender Course’ and learn the range of acupressure points along with a handful of other tools to connect and bond your and your partner together with confidence on what is happening with your body during labour, how to work with your body and how your partner can apply pain relief just by using their hands.

Note: These should not be stimulated during most of pregnancy. It is fine to practice locating them before 37 weeks, but do not actually apply pressure to the points unless stated fine to use during pregnancy.