Acupressure to Relieve Pregnancy Discomfort
Acupressure is an ancient healing art developed in Asia over 5,000 years ago, using the fingers, hand, elbow or other device to apply pressure to specific points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. Proponents believe that acupressure may reduce muscle pain and tension, improve blood circulation and release endorphins. It is thought that when an acupressure point is pressed, muscle fibers elongate and relax, allowing blood to flow more freely and toxins to be released and eliminated.
Acupressure uses rubbing, light pounding and gentle massage to direct energy to different parts of the body. It focuses on pressure points along the nervous system's meridians that are connected to various organs throughout the body. It is believed that when an organ stops functioning correctly, it is due to a lack or excess of energy. Acupressure can be used like a faucet, to slow or increase the flow of energy to wherever it is needed. Acupressure can help relieve pregnancy-related discomfort because it is low impact and the body's heightened sensitivity during pregnancy responds well to this kind of treatment.
According to acupressure theory, a pressure point will become painful and hard when an organ malfunctions. When there is too much energy, the point will be sore and sensitive to the touch. To relieve bottled up or excess energy, the point needs to be calmed through slow, deep and sustained finger pressure, in an outward or counter-clockwise direction. The pad of the thumb works best. When there is a shortage of energy, a light, superficial pressure using the fingertips in an inward or clockwise direction will restore balance. An initial worsening of the condition might be felt, but it is part of the healing process and will resolve itself quickly.
Concentrations of pressure points are located near the extremities, around the elbows, fingers, knees and toes, while the wrists contain the most sensitive points. Bending the wrist and fingers back gently can indicate how great the need is for circulation and stimulation in the rest of the body.
Although more research is needed, initial studies have found acupressure to be an effective treatment for many ailments, including nausea and motion sickness, insomnia, sleep apnea, obesity, bedwetting in children, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and drug addiction.
One of the most effective acupressure points is the Neiguan or pericardium 6 (P6) point, used to relieve nausea and vomiting. It is located on the inside of the wrist, three fingerbreadths above the crease of the wrist between the two tendons. The bracelets sold to relieve motion sickness and other forms of nausea use this pressure point.
To relieve pain during labor, have your partner use their knuckle to apply pressure to the Ciliao BL-32 point, located one finger width up from the crease of your buttocks and one thumb width to the left or right side of the spine. There is a small depression where the point lies. You should feel numbness, warmth or tingling when pressure is applied. If you feel a sharp pain, your partner may be pressing the bone near the point. The pressure points on either side of the spine might not line up perfectly during labor, due to muscle contractions, therefore it's important to communicate with and guide your partner until he or she finds the right spot. This point has been reported by many as being extremely useful for pain relief during labor.
During the transition stage of labor, try having your partner apply pressure to the bottom of your foot. To find the pressure point, called Yongquan KID-1, flex your toes; it is the notable depression in the middle of the top third of the foot. Tell your partner to use his or her knuckle to apply pressure up towards your big toe.
Practice the labor pain relief points with your partner in the weeks before you go into labor and remember to listen to your body as you practice them.