Using acupressure to alleviate pain during childbirth
Spring is on its way, and with it the lambing season. However, we aren't here to talk about lambs but the many lovely babies that are on their way. To help all of you soon-to-be mums and dads, Emilie Wicks, Midwife Extrordinaire at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital London shares with us her first-hand experience using acupressure during childbirth. And how instrumental her partner's help in applying these helped to alleviate the pain during labour. Emilie is also the UK Ambassador of Birth by Heart and its "Birth Without Fear Method". We thought you would benefit from our extra tips and pictures to enable you to find these acupressure points quickly and efficiently when the time comes.
Not ready yet? You can always keep this for a later date or share it with a friend who needs it. Get them to try it out first!
Not pregnant? Don't worry some of the acupressure points given can also alleviate, headaches, migraines, nausea, insomnia and many more. And YES you can use these if you are a man. Here is the link to your: DIY Acupressure Massage Therapy 6 of 6: Your Acupressure Guide. IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you think you may be pregnant or are pregnant but have not yet reached 37 weeks' + of pregnancy DO NOT USE THESE ACUPRESSURE POINTS.
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As always, my aim is to help you alleviate your aches and pains, from the safety and comfort of your own home. If you need a One-on-One video session to get rid of these pains in the neck (or the backside). You can book a session here.
We have a secret in our culture and it's not that birth is painful, it's that women are strong. - Laura Stavoe Harm
The experience of giving childbirth
As a midwife myself of 8 years at the time, was a complete revelation to me. The whole pregnancy in fact was incredibly eye-opening and on so many levels an extremely humbling experience that filled me with empathy, awe, and total respect for our female bodies and what we are capable of both doing and enduring.
As I approached my due date for my first childbirth I was not particularly anxious or concerned, despite having worked for most of my professional life caring for high-risk women with various complications, either during pregnancy or labour.
In my mind, I was quietly curious about how this experience would unfold for me and how I would cope, as I knew that every childbirth is completely unique. Maybe it was thanks to my midwifery that I did have faith in the process and that I knew that the contractions, once they came, had a purpose and a message.
I was certainly not in fear of the pain coming. I was however aware that anything can happen at birth, and that the need to be flexible and open-minded in regards to pain-relief or potential interventions was necessary.
So there I was, plodding along in my pregnancy quite comfortably and “open-minded”…until I thought I should probably do some hypnobirthing in order tomentally prepare’ and have strategies for coping with the pain.
However, the language and concepts didn’t speak to me particularly strongly, nor to my partner. For the most part, we giggled at the texts in the book with the flowery language, visualizing my vagina as being a rose in various stages of its opening and its petals unfolding…Perhaps it would have helped to do a course and not just read the book, however that had not happened and I was now 39 weeks.
Acupressure for labour and childbirth
As fortune would have it, at some point in that final week, somebody (an angel) recommended to download Debra Betts’ Acupressure booklet for labour and childbirth. However, even this I arrogantly postponed and it was not until the night before my due date that I finally downloaded it onto my phone and had a quick read of its 14 pages.
It was page 6 that stood out to me, as the two pressure points described here, when pressed, would create a “pleasant anaesthetising effect”. I urgently showed it to my partner and said, “We need to practice!”. The very next morning at 5 am, I started contracting.
Slowly and gently I progressed gradually at home into established labour over several hours with me fluctuating between mobilizing and having warm baths infused with either lavender or mandarin essential oils. The early contractions were quite manageable.
However, with the stronger, more regular contractions taking hold I required my partner to press his two thumbs firmly on the two acupressure points at the base of my spine during every contraction, for the whole of the contraction.
I can confidently say that when he wasn’t quite on the money, or the pressure was not hard enough, my perception of the pain increased by almost half. That was it. He was now locked into this physical support for the rest of the labour. I was totally hooked. Yes, you can potentially prepare mentally for labour, but in my experience, you need physical tools and strategies to cope and handle contractions. Because it is a physical process. Very physical…
The poor guy had RSI in his thumbs for a week after the birth of our baby girl, who was born in the pool at 5.13 pm, 12 hours after my first contraction. Yet, the team effort we entered into was incredibly powerful in that it made me feel that we were having the contractions together.
Every single one, he was there pressing, whilst my midwife passed me the gas and air, and I entered into this state where all I was aware of was that I would say, “Gas”….”Press”….every time the contraction took hold. Like a ritual where we all had our unique role to get the job done.
Coping and handling contractions requires emotional and physical support
Acupressure helps with coping and handling contractions and is still one of the few things I always recommend to expectant parents to explore in preparation for labour and childbirth. The birthing body knows how to birth. It is an ancient and innate ability dating back 40,000 years. Yet, managing contractions requires emotional and physical support throughout. Acupressure during labour can provide one very important aspect of this physical support in this most unique and extraordinary of physical challenges; bringing your baby into the world.
Massage Therapy to the Rescue!
Acupressure for labour
The following are helpful acupressure points to alleviate Childbirth pains. Apply firm but gentle pressure to the following points: please follow this link to Debra Betts' Birth Preparation using Acupressure - Optimising your bodies beneficial responses - She has FREE Videos to help you find them correctly. Below are some of ours.
*Do not use these points if you are pregnant but not yet in your 37th week or over, as these can induce labour.
GALLBLADDER MERIDIAN Shoulder Well or Jian jing - GB21
Located at the highest spot of the muscle when you bring your thumb and index finger together. Relax your fingers and grip this point with the thumb and index finger or simply press down on the point. Apply firm pressure and massage.
Partner's Tips: Once you have located GB21. You can press down using both of your elbows at the same time! One on the left-hand side, one on the right-hand side. Always check the pressure is right by asking your partner initially.
Clinically used for stress, facial pain, headaches, toothaches, and neck pain.
LARGE INTESTINE MERIDIAN Joining Valley or Hegu - LI4
Located at the highest spot of the muscle when you bring your thumb and index finger together. Relax your fingers and grip this point with the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Press down your thumb, using your index finger in your palm as leverage. Apply firm pressure and massage.
Partner's Tips: Take your partner's left hand with your right hand or their right hand with your left hand so to locate the highest spot of the muscle. Press down your thumb using your index finger in the palm of their hand as leverage. Check the pressure with your partner.
Clinically used for stress, facial pain, headaches, toothaches, and neck pain.
BLADDER MERIDIAN Second Bone Crevice or Ci liao - BL32 Located midway between the dimples above the buttocks and the lumbar spine. It lies approximately one thumb width on either side of the spine and about one of your lady's index finger length, above the top of the buttock crease. Press down on both points at the same time applying firm pressure and massage.
Partner's Tips: You can use both of your thumbs at the same time! One on the left-hand side, one on the right-hand side of the spine. Check with your partner that the pressure is right for them. Visit this video link from Debra Betts on how to locate the point https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmlHAisOtyY
Clinically used for sciatica, sore lower back, leg pain, hemorrhoids, sadness and anguish.
SPLEEN MERIDIAN Three Yin Intersection or San yin jiao - SP6
Find the top of the ankle, on the inside of the leg with the opposite hand. Place your pinky just above the inner-ankle and rest the four fingers width up the inner-ankle. Place the thumb of your other hand just above the main crease of your index finger. Simply press down on the point. Apply firm pressure and massage the area for 4-5 seconds at a time behind the Tibia bone. Repeat
Partner's Tips: It should be the width of your lady's hand! Her measurements, not yours. Clinically used for urological, pelvic disorders, insomnia, and menstrual cramps.
"Pregnancy is the only time in life when you fall in love with someone you haven't met." - Unknown
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