How to Do Acupressure When You’re In Labor

Hey Mamas, today’s guest post is from Ali Damron, a licensed acupuncturist and founder of Denver Acupuncture and Wellness. Ali blogs about motherhood and natural living at Enjoy!

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As far back as 5,000 years ago, acupressure has been used to help relieve pain in laboring women. In more recent times, Western culture has accepted and applied these Eastern medicine techniques.

As an acupuncturist, I get questions frequently about using Traditional Chinese Medicine to help cope with labor pains. This article will teach you how to use acupressure when you’re in labor.

I used acupressure to start my labor, re-start my stalling labor in the hospital, and as pain relief for my natural childbirth.

The Basis of Acupressure

Acupressure is based on the principles of acupuncture, which is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the application of pressure to specific points on the body. It is not massage, but rather a direct, firm pressure to a specific area. You can use your fingers, thumbs, knuckles, elbows, the blunt end of a pencil or pen or other hard, round objects.

In acupressure, there are twelve invisible lines called meridians that run along each side of the body. The meridians exist in pairs, and each pair corresponds to a specific organ. Acupressure points are named for the meridians they lie on, and each is given a number according to where along the meridian it falls.

Acupressure can be used to provide pain relief and calm the birthing woman as well as encourage an efficient labor.

If you plan on using acupressure during your labor, practice it beforehand – and often.  All the points are safe from week 37 on, but you’ll want to use less pressure than you would during your labor.  When you’re in labor, you want to press firmly on the point.  The sensation should be tolerable but you should definitely feel a strong pressure.  You might feel pressure, heaviness or even an electrical sensation on the point.  Make sure you check with your midwife or doctor before trying acupressure.

It is vital that you start using acupressure in the early stages of labor and continue at regular intervals to help the success of acupressure in the intense, later stages of labor.

When your support person is giving you acupressure, keep experimenting and giving feedback about what’s working the best as far as the amount of pressure and even the points that you like the most.

The Acupressure Points

There are several points where pressure can be applied for pain relief and for an efficient birth. Again, make sure there is direct, firm pressure on the points. Everyone is different on how long they like the points to be held for and how often. This is completely up to the laboring woman.

Large Intestine 4

Acupressure during labor large intestine 4 pointThis point is great to help get labor started and the woman is able to press this point herself. It’s generally helpful for her to start pressing this point at the beginning of labor (or even before it begins in the last couple weeks of pregnancy). This point is often useful when the woman starts to get the urge to push.

Lower Back Points

Acupressure during labor lower back pointThe lower back points are extremely helpful if you are experiencing back labor or in the middle of an intense contraction as a counter pressure. These points are located in the lower back region and can be individualized to the laboring woman depending on where it feels the best to her.  Sometimes the the point might be more outwards on the lower back.  Have your support person push into the points with their knuckles and lean in with their body weight during a contraction.

Kidney 1

Acupressure during labor Kidney 1 pointThis point is located in the center of sole of the foot in the depression next to the bottom of the ball of the foot. These points pull energy downward and are typically useful during the transition phase of labor. This is also a great point for calming to help with stress and anxiety. You can also use sea bands around the foot to place the pressure on the point for you.

Acupressure during labor Urinary Bladder point

Urinary Bladder 60

This point is generally used to increase circulation and provide pain relief in the body. Most women also like this point during the transitional phase of labor.

Spleen 6

This point is located on the inner calf about four fingers width up along the tibial bone. There will be a tender spot, so find that. In case of a stalling labor, use this point along withAcupressure during labor spleen 6 point large intestine 4 to encourage stronger contractions. Have the woman apply pressure to the hand point and the support person give acupressure to spleen 6.

You’ll have to experiment with each of these points to see which ones feel the best. What felt the best during pregnancy might not be the one that feels the best during labor and they could also change depending on what phase of labor you’re in.

Final Thoughts About Acupressure During Labor

Acupressure has been practised for thousands of years. Countless mamas say it’s helped them jump start labor, relieve pain, and strengthen contractions.

Best of all, acupressure is safe and harmless. So it’s you’re looking for natural pain relief during labor, it’s definitely worth learning how to do acupressure and giving it a try.

How About You?

Did you experiment with acupressure or acupuncture during your pregnancy? What other methods of pain relief did you use? Share with us in the comments below.

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  1. Wow! Such really good tips!

  2. I am researching acupressure to cope with after pains after the birth of my fourth child. These started after my first and have been increasingly worse with each child. They were practically unbearable with my third, especially while nursing in the first few days after birth. Any recommendations of points that I can give to my husband to help me would be most appreciated! Thank you so much.

  3. I am a retired OBGYN. When I practiced, I readily used acupressure points to help my patients with their labor pain. I can attest that it helped, and many of my patients, more than usual, were able to have natural child birth. I used the hand, ankle and sole of the foot points, pressing gently yet firmly. My patients were enthusiastic to try acupressure, and many

  4. I’m going to try this. I’m high risk this pregnancy from have 2 preemies and I’ve been working very hard with multiple doctors and I have a green light to deliver with my midwife at the birthing center. I’m 38 weeks but they want to induce at 41 so I’m ready to try anything I can to get labor going. I just want to finally have a natural birth.

  5. Hi I’m considering trying this, my only question is… Lol how long do you hold the points for? I feel silly how do you know if it’s working? Or worked?

  6. Acupressure works! My husband did the calf,hands and feet spots at 9pm night before and by 3am I started contractions and had baby boy by 10:45am no epidural and a 5-6 hour labor I will add the contractions didn’t even start to hurt till 6am /630 ish at which point a hot shower really helps! And the hospital had a big bath in my room so I took a hot bath at 7cm too 🙂 easiest delivery ever , hope this one turns out similar I’m 39 weeks right now 😀

  7. Thank you for your blog Mama Natural. A gift to all who have the ears to hear and eyes to see there are other ways 🙂

  8. Monday I was a week overdue with lots of mild braxton hicks. My state only allows me to go two weeks overdue. My midwife was going to start the herbs, breast pump, and castor oil regimin at 41.5w. I asked if she’d be okay with me trying accupuncture. She okayed it so I called the acupuncturist and she recommended acupressure that night to see if maybe that would start things first. I pulled up this blog and following her instructions and this blog and videos, my husband did an hour of foot and shoulder massage while I did my hand. My braxton hicks stayed spaced out, but became much more serious in intensity. The next day I had my appointment with the acupuncturist (my first ever). When I left, the contractions were about ten minutes apart. I had my baby 15 hours later, my shortest labor yet! He is one day old! I’d say this post was very timely for me!

    • That is so cool! Congrats, and welcome to your bundle of joy!

      • Thank you, MamaNatural and Guest writer.

  9. Never considered this. Good to know. I usually am picky about touch but I know labor is different for everyone. Who knows? I may really not have ticklish feet when I’m in transition. We’ll find out quickly, I suppose. 8 weeks to go!

  10. Great article.

  11. Yay! This is perfect timing for me. I’ll be 35 weeks tomorrow with our first. I was just thinking about looking up some acupressure points to help cope with labor pain as I’m planning a natural childbirth. Thank you 🙂

  12. I wish I knew about this after my water broke and I had no contractions for 24 hours so my midwife induced me.

  13. My husband is a LMT and practices acupressure. During my third pregnancy we used these points after 37 weeks. I was hoping to be able to go into labor naturally and not be induced. I ended up with an emergency induction at 38 weeks. He worked on these points during my labor as well. The points that helped the most were the ones used for counter pressure in my back as I always have back labor. It was very helpful. For an induction my labor was fast. Four hours or less from the first contraction to delivery. I did opt for an epidural, but was able to hold off for quite some time. I actually complained after delivery that the counter pressure points were more sore than anything else on my body, ha!

    My husband has also successfully induced labor for a friend when she was at 40 weeks pregnant. The doctor had said she would always gave to be induced and that her body didnt know how to go into labor. She was on her fifth pregnancy. After working the points in her hands, her contractions started and the baby was born 14 hours later, all natural! She is now 40 weeks with her next baby and ready for the same course of treatment. She says she never wants to be medically induced again.

    • wowow the power of touch!!

  14. Thanks for sharing this info momma! I’m a massage therapist and can’t get enough bodywork.. will definitely add this to our labor tool box… 18 days and counting!

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