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Some new research on acupressure points has shown how they can reduce pain during labour: these same  acupressure points have been shown to have an effect on inducing labour naturally.  In this blog we will look at both: inducing labour naturally and pain relief in labour. Both studies were published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal. If you want to learn more about the Bristol study that Suzanne was involved in read this blog
If you would like to learn more about shiatsu and acupressure for pain relief in labour as well as preparing for labour, bonding with your baby, involving your partner, then you might like to read my book Beautiful Birth or do my on line course. If you are a midwife or doula we also have courses for you and a book “Shiatsu for Midwives”. 
For more information on shiatsu or the points you can also read the related blogs: What is shiatsu

Acupressure points for pain relief in labour

The recent study was into the effect of Large Intestine 4 (LI4: a point on the hand) and Bladder 32 (BL32) : a point on the lower back/sacrum. It was entitled:

Effect of LI4 and BL32 acupressure on labor pain and delivery outcome in the first stage of labor in primiparous women: A randomized controlled trial 

and was published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal

I was rather puzzled at their choice of points. If I had only been going to choose one, I would probably have chosen Spleen 6 (SP6: a point on the inside ankle) or Gall Bladder 21 ( GB21 : a point on the top of the shoulder) rather than LI4. However, I was not surprised that BL32 had an effect: the second sacral foramen. Teaching work for the sacral foramen is a fundamental part of my work teaching midwives, parents, and practitioners. I teach techniques to work all four foramen: as which point, even of a pair, is most effective depends on the mother and where she is at in labour. Sometimes a combination of points is the most effective.

Partner giving acupressure to sacrum for labour support

© Jules Selmes Beautiful Birth

Inducing labour naturally: Acupressure points for natural induction of labour

I don’t really like to use the term “natural induction” of labour as many people do: as the points do not work in the same way as medical induction of labour. Medical induction of labour involves putting artificial hormones into the body, either through a pessary or through an intravenous drip. Acupressure “induction” of labour is not about putting anything into your body, but more about helping your body work more effectively by stimulating certain points with pressure. This means it is safe: if your body is not ready to go into labour then it won’t. Inducing labour naturally is better expressed as supporting your body to go into labour naturally.

I taught midwives at St Michaels hospital in Bristol (where I live) how to use shiatsu points to support women to go into labour naturally. We did an intial pilot study which was also published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal, where our initial pilot study at Bristol was also published.

The effect of shiatsu on post term pregnancy

We had been hoping to use this to then carry out a much bigger study, which unfortunately didn’t happen due to lack of funding.  I still hope that one day we will. I have recently taught most of the midwives at the Swiss hospital of Morges and we are collating the effects of using shiatsu/acupressure in the maternity period. and hope to use this to do a more formal study.

How does acupressure work for pain relief in labour?

For more information on what shiatsu is then read the following blog what is shiatsu

You might also like to read about massage and shiatsu during labour 

You could also read the study on shiatsu at St Michael’s in Bristol


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