Debra Betts - Acupuncture and Acupressure for Pregancy and Childbirth

Acupressure

This booklet outlines acupuncture points and details their use in acupressure. Each point has been labelled - the letters indicate the name of the meridian pathway it lies along, and the number corresponds to the position on that meridian. Extra points have been labelled according to the body part.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, meridians are a series channels that carry qi (energy) through the body. These meridians are a separate system from nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic ducts. They contain over 600 points. In restoring and balancing the bodies energy through this meridian system acupuncture and acupressure promote changes to improve the way the body functions.

In traditional Chinese medicine terms, I see these acupressure points as prompting the body to work more efficiently. From a medical model, they can be viewed as, promoting the release of endorphins, blocking the pain receptors to the brain, dilating the cervix, and increasing the efficiency of the contractions.

Using Acupressure

For the maximum benefit to be gained from acupressure, it is important that the use of these points are commenced as early as possible. Women reporting the highest satisfaction began using the acupressure points at the beginning of their labour.

Women and their support people need to continually try different acupressure points during labour, deciding through the women's feedback which points are the most useful as she progresses through labour.

These acupressure points are not to be used if they produce any discomfort, if effective they will produce a pleasant sensation or noticeable effect that wears off when discontinued.

It is important for the support people to understand that this is not massage, but rather direct firm pressure to a specific area. This is a very "hands on" technique; no prior knowledge of anatomy or Chinese massage is necessary. If these acupressure points are useful women will be able to give very clear instructions to their support people exactly where and how much pressure is required.

Although I see acupressure as a useful tool for women, and one that is helpful in promoting an efficient labour, originally I never had any intention of refusing available western medical pain relief to prove that I could have a “natural childbirth”. It will be obvious to the woman and her midwife or doctor if acupressure is providing adequate pain relief, and if not, there are medical pain relief options available. It must also be remembered that not all labours will go as planned and that western medical intervention will always play an important role for a certain percentage of women in childbirth.

There are acupressure points in this booklet labelled “To be used with caution in pregnancy”. These are points that can be used to induce labour. Due to this effect they should not be used with any strong regular pressure during a pregnancy. It is possible to practice locating these points prior to labour but they are only to be used on a regular basis if the intention is to promote labour. It is essential that the support people be guided by the woman's actual feedback during labour as these acupressure points will often feel quiet different then from the sensations felt during a practice session.