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Acupressure is an ancient healing technique that involves putting pressure on specific points of the body to stimulate organ function. Some women receive acupressure treatments in pregnancies that have gone past 40 weeks, in order to induce labor. By applying pressure to various points on a woman's body, specialists who perform acupressure for labor also can provide pain relief to women who are in labor.
Many women find that using acupressure for labor helps prepare their bodies for birth. Acupressure treatments can help the cervix dilate and can stimulate contractions. Certain pressure points can be massaged to provide relaxation and relieve anxiety.
To use acupressure for labor induction, acupressure experts suggest applying pressure to two specific locations on the woman's body. To induce contractions, a woman can pinch the flesh located between the thumb and forefinger on either hand with her opposite thumb and forefinger, then rub in a circular motion for one minute at a time. A woman can encourage her cervix to dilate using acupressure by pressing on the inside of either leg, about four finger widths above her ankle. Acupressure on this area should by applied for one minute on one leg, then applied on the other leg after a 20-minute rest period.
During labor, acupressure can be used to reduce pain and anxiety. Applying pressure on certain points can reduce the discomfort of contractions and help a woman in labor to relax. Acupressure in labor has been shown to release endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers for women in labor. Acupressure for labor is best used during the first and second stages of labor.
One helpful pressure point is located on the upper back, halfway between the most prominent neck vertebrae and the outside of the shoulder. Another useful pressure point for applying acupressure in labor is located on the lower back, just above either buttock, one finger width away from the spine. By applying pressure on these locations with a downward massaging motion, an acupressure practitioner or labor coach can help reduce a woman's back pain during labor contractions.
Acupressure can be used to relax a woman during the second stage of labor. Acupressure experts recommend applying pressure to the depression found in the top third of each foot. Massaging this area can also help reduce panic or anxiety during labor.
The pressure points used in acupressure for labor should not be stimulated until a pregnancy has reached full term. This will help prevent the onset of premature labor. Many women choose to employ professional acupressure practitioners to provide natural, drug-free treatments to augment labor and relieve childbirth pain.