Acupressure is just one holistic practice (along with hypnosis and acupuncture) that’s showing up more and more in the delivery room, especially among moms who are motivated to try a drug-free birth. The jury’s out on whether the thousands-year-old technique reduces labor pains or helps progress you through the stages of labor more quickly, but proponents believe it does. And acupressure is considered safe during labor, so you might think it’s worth a shot.
While you wouldn’t necessarily associate a point above your ankle or between your thumb and forefinger with your cervix or uterus, practitioners say it’s all interrelated, since energy flows in channels throughout the body. Stimulating these areas, they note, can help unblock stuck energy so your body can get down to the business of moving baby from your womb to the outside world.
Typically, a trained professional would be the one doing the stimulation, but often a doula or midwife can also play the same role. Some moms-to-be choose to visit an acupressure practitioner before they head into those final days before delivery and ask their partners to join them to get a few pointers on where and how to stimulate the pressure points that can help out when the time comes.
There’s even some clinical evidence that it works: One Korean study of 75 women found that those who tried a 30-minute acupressure session had significantly less labor pain and a shorter amount of time from 3-centimeter dilation to delivery. Which makes us think it might be worth pressing the issue.
Expert source: Regina Walsh, licensed acupuncturist (LAc), based in Bedford, NY.
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