Mother Nurture Yoga recently talked to acupuncturist and herbalist Kirsten Lee from Health Space about how acupuncture can help you during different stages of your pregnancy and labour.

Acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years. But this tradition is also grounded in significant research, including:

  • One study showed that acupuncture from 27 weeks of gestation can shorten the length labour (and who wouldn’t want that?!).
  • In 1998, some similar research was done, this time starting at 36 weeks and it showed a positive effects and shortened labor time.
  • In 2004, another study was done, with acupuncture being applied at the onset of labor and it resulted in 31% reduction in epidurals, and 9% increase in normal delivery!
  • In Norway, 210 pregnant women participated in a study (one group underwent true acupuncture and the other a fake acupuncture) and those who received true acupuncture said that they had reduced pain and less labor time.

Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?

Overall, acupuncture is safe for pregnant women. The adverse reactions that were revealed in a study were typical reactions even for non-pregnant individuals such as tiredness after acupuncture, bruising, and some degree of pain. It is important to note that only 1.3% of the participants reported this, which means that the greater majority didn’t experience this at all! Please make sure though that your acupuncturist is appropriately qualified.

Acupuncture for different pregnancy stages

Acupuncture can be used in all stages of pregnancy, for various reasons:

  • First Trimester – most women experience nausea, vomiting, lack of energy, poor appetite, dizziness, insomnia, and more. These are caused by insufficient adjustments by the body to adapt to the changes of pregnancy. Acupuncture can help bring these systems back into balance to eliminate or reduce the above symptoms.
  • Second Trimester – more changes are happening physically. Pregnancy usually gets easier during this time. Acupuncture can help support the growth and development of the child by balancing the health of the mother.
  • Third Trimester – this involves preparing the body for birth and labor. Kirsten said that acupuncture helps in positioning the baby the right way to avoid a CS delivery. Acupuncture can also address fatigue, relieve body pain and swelling, support the organs responsible for urination and bowel movement, and rebalance your systems to help you get proper sleep.
  • Before childbirth – Acupuncture prepares the body for labour by addressing any imbalances in the organ systems. It helps ensure that the channels are open to facilitate a smooth delivery. It also helps the baby engage and turn breach babies at 33-35 weeks. Acupuncture also helps ripen the cervix, relax muscles, and calm the mind.
  • After childbirth – Acupuncture can help to ensure the smooth transition of your body from pregnancy back to your usual physique. Postpartum acupuncture focuses on your physical, emotional, and psychological recovery from the effects of pregnancy and labor. It also encourages breastfeeding.

Acupressure points for labour

The great thing about acupressure points is that you can use them yourself during your labour. Here are 4 points for you to try:

Point #1 – Between the thumb and forefinger

This point should be tender when firm pressure is applied. It will help you prepare for childbirth. During labor this is used if things aren’t progressing fast enough. Midwives trained in acupuncture will do this. It can help induce labor or contractions. Apply firm pressure for 30 seconds

Point #2 – Midway between the                dimples above the buttocks and the lumbar spine.

Apply pressure on the lower part of the spine. Press firmly to help push the baby down. This point can also help in pain relief. It triggers contractions and helps relieve gynecological issues. This can be used combined with Point #1.

Point #3 – Four finger breadths above the tip of the highest point of the ankle.

The point is located on the border of the tibia. It is used for labor induction. Use your index finger to apply firm pressure on the point for a few seconds. Repeat this again within one-minute intervals.

Point #4 – Between the tip of shoulder and base of the neck

When you draw an imaginary line between the bony prominence of the neck and the top of the shoulder joint, this point lies midway along this curved line, at the highest point of the shoulder. It can help the baby descend and alleviate pain, too. Your midwife or partner should apply firm, downward, even pressure using his or her elbow. They can also use a wooden spoon handle.

Point #5 – Depression found in the top one third of the sole of the foot.

It can be easily located as a depression is formed when you pull the toes towards the sole of the foot. This acupressure point has a useful relaxing effect and can be used at any time during labour. It also relieves pain.

These are just some of the different acupressure points that can be used to help you have an easier, faster, and less painful labour.

To know more about acupuncture or acupressure for pregnancy, you can book an appointment with Kirsten Lee at the Health Space Hornsby or Mona Vale clinic.