How To Use Acupressure To Reduce Labor Pain

You’re coming into the final weeks of your pregnancy. You may be feeling a mixture of excitement to greet your baby and also nervous about labor pain. While you go about your day, your thoughts  may drift to thinking about giving birth. Will you go past your due date and need to be induced?  Is labor pain going to be intense and long? Are you going to want an epidural?

If you are planning for a natural childbirth, acupressure—the stimulation of acupuncture points without using needles—is a safe and powerful way to support natural labor. Knowing how to use this method of pain relief will give you a sense of control during birth.

Acupressure can provide effective pain relief, promote contractions for an easier birth and help to reduce your anxiety.

Midwives approve of acupressure for labor

Acupressure can reduce labor pain according to recent research.  Unlike some drug interventions, acupressure is harmless to you and your baby.  Pain is alleviated by decreasing pain signals from sensory nerves in your spinal cord to calm your nervous system.  As you stimulate acupuncture points for labor your body releases oxytocin —the hormone that causes your uterus to contract.  Women experience less labor pain and require fewer drug interventions when they use acupressure during birth. These women also tend to have shorter labors and less need for assistance during vaginal births.  Acupressure is so beneficial during labor that 97% of German maternity hospitals offer acupressure.  In Sweden, midwives routinely train in acupuncture to complement their practice.

I teach women and their birth partner how to stimulate specific acupuncture points to promote relaxation, ease labor pain and to encourage labor along if it progresses too slowly.

Acupressure points to encourage labor progression and decrease pain

Beginning at 38 weeks pregnant, you can stimulate these points by firmly massaging the area with your index finger or thumb. Strong stimulation will be key to effectively reducing labor pain.  If you would like more instruction on how use these points please download the free e-booklet from Integrity Women’s Health.

Spleen 6

  • You can use this point in early labor to soften and dilate your cervix and to encourage contractions after your water breaks.

Large Intestine 4

  • This is a primary point for alleviating pain.
  • LI 4, combined with SP6, promotes more powerful, consistent contractions, thereby helping your baby to descend deeper into the birth canal.

Sacral Points:

  • If you experience back labor use these points, located above your tailbone, to provide powerful pain relief.
  • Combine with SP6 and LI4 to promote steady, strong contractions after your water breaks.

Gall Bladder 21: 

  • This point has a strong downward action to help contractions move your baby deeper into the birth canal.
  • Use GB 21 if contractions become irregular.
  • Promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. Remember, fear can cause an increase in your perception of pain and it may slow down labor.

Kidney 1:

  • Kidney 1 helps to reduce anxiety and quiet your mind.
  • You can have your birth partner massage it for you as you kneel hugging a yoga ball.
  • During early labor you can try walking around wearing motion sickness bands with the bead over this point.

Finally, knowing that you have several methods to reduce labor pain can give you peace of mind as you approach your due date.   “Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”  (Ina May Gaskin, Founder and Director of the Farm Midwifery Center, TN).