Each and every phase of pregnancy – right from conception to the final delivery is a period of anticipation, expectations and hopes for both the parents, but during each phase, the body of the mother goes through a lot of changes and has to endure a lot of pain, which calls for special care and attention from the partner. The labor is the final stage of pregnancy where the wait for long 9 months comes to an end. It is the phase where the uterine muscles are hard at work creating powerful contractions in order to dilate the cervix, and it causes considerable pain, discomfort and cramping. The birthing woman will also experience strain and fatigue in various parts of the body including the back, legs and arms. Holistic techniques such as acupressure and reflexology to induce labor and relieve back pain and cramping can aid in providing a smooth and complication-free delivery.
Signs and Symptoms of Labor
The experience of labor is different for each and every woman, but there are a few prominent signs and symptoms which help you to know that labor is imminent. Pre-labour or early labor shows the following symptoms:
- Constant lower and abdominal pain along with cramps
- Painful contractions of irregular frequency and strength that come and go
- Broken water due to rupture of the membrane that leads to a gush or trickle of amniotic fluid
- Blood tinged brownish mucus discharge
- Upset stomach
- Feeling moody, restless, anxious, impatient and emotional
- Problem in sleeping
Symptoms during final stage of labor:
- Dilation of cervix from 4 to 10 cms
- Painful and regular contractions that repeats every five minutes and last for a minute
Pain Experienced During Labor and Delivery
The excruciating pain that a woman feels during labor is caused by contraction of the muscles of the uterus and the pressure created on the cervix. The pain is felt as strong cramping and aching in the abdomen, back, groin as well as sides of the thighs. The pressure created by the baby’s head on the bladder and bowels and the stretching of the vagina and the birth canal also causes pain.
Different women have different experience of labor pain and although labor is considered one of the most painful human experiences, it varies from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. While some say that it resembles menstrual cramps, others describe it as severe pressure and yet others compare it to strong waves of diarrheal cramps. In most cases, it is not the actual pain of contraction that women suffer from, but the frequency of the contractions that increases as the labor progress and gives very less time to relax.
9 Useful Acupressure Points to Relieve Labor Pain
The use of acupressure and acupuncture for labor pain relief is well known. Stimulating these selective acupressure points during the early stages of labor can help in reducing back pain and support and assist the body of the birthing mother to prepare for the delivery process.
B48 or Bladder48 is one of the vital pressure points for labor that is located three chons to the side of the sacrum, in the middle of the gluteal muscle of the buttocks. This can be a very tender point during labor and, therefore, it must be stimulated with great care. It is also called the Bladder Vitals and stimulating this point helps in relieving back pain and promotes qi flow through the pelvis. It is a local point for lower back pain, hip pain, sciatica and pelvic tension.
B28 or Bladder 28 is another important point of acupressure for labor pain that is located on the lower back. It is also called the Bladder Shu, and it can be found midway between the top and bottom of the sacrum, halfway between the middle and the outer edge. Stimulating this point on both sides helps in alleviating lower and sacral back pain. It is an effective pressure point for urinary bladder diseases including urine retention, frequent urination, and incontinence of urine and digestive disorders.
St29 or is a significant pressure point for labor pain relief that is located on the outer brink of the pubic bone, two chons from the midline. This point is also named the Return point, and it helps in stimulating and balancing the qi flow to the female reproductive organs. It is a useful pressure point for menstrual problems, hernia, abdominal pain and prolapse of the uterus.
Sp6 or Spleen 6 is an extremely important acupressure point that helps in relieving all types of women problems. It is also called the Three Yin Crossing, and it is the crossing point of the kidney, liver and spleen meridians. This point can be found three finger widths above the inner ankle bone, along the back of the tibia. Stimulating this point on both the legs regulates the labor by stimulating uterine contractions. This point is also useful for treating menstrual problems, hernia, spleen disorders, digestive disorders, insomnia, male sexual issues and anxiety.
LI4 or Large Intestine 4 is undoubtedly the most famous acupressure point for healing a wide range of health issues. It is an important point of acupressure and acupuncture to induce labor that is located on the fleshy webbing between the thumb and the index finger. This point is also named the Union Valley and stimulating this point on both hands helps in stimulating labor and encouraging the downward flow of energy. This point is also used to alleviate headaches, body ache, dizziness, eye disorders, deafness, facial paralysis, menstrual problems, abdominal pain and digestive disorders.
GB21 or Gall Bladder 21 is one of the functional pressure points for pain relief and easing labor pain that is located on the top of the shoulder, halfway between the edge of the shoulder and the base of the neck, in the middle of the muscle. This point is called the Shoulder Well, and it is stimulated to promote the downward flow of energy. It is also a local point for shoulder and neck pain. In addition, it also aids in treating asthma, cough, and breast issues like mastitis and breast abscess.
K1 or Kidney 1 acupressure point is also known as the Gushing Spring and this point is located at the bottom of the foot, in the depression when the foot is set in plantar flexion. This is one of the essential acupuncture pressure points that help in pulling the energy downward and calming the stress and anxiety of the mother. This point is also useful for relieving hypertension, epilepsy, headaches, ear problems, sore throat, lower back pain, insomnia and nausea.
K3 or Kidney3 is one of the beneficial pressure points for labor pain which is located on the inner side of the feet, halfway between the Achilles tendon and the inner ankle bone. This point is also called the Great Ravine, and it helps in relieving labor pain. In addition, it can also be used to treat insomnia, cough, asthma, diabetes, headache, vision problems, toothache, impotence, irregular menstruation and lumbar pain.
UB60 or Urinary Bladder 60 is another useful acupressure point for managing labor pain that is especially useful during the transitional phase of labor and is used to enhance blood circulation and provide pain relief. This point is named the Kunlun Mountains and it is located on the foot, in the dint between the tip of the external malleolus and tendo calcaneus. This point is also beneficial for acute lumbar pain, headache, neck stiffness and dizziness. It is a local point for heel pain relief.
Caution: Acupressure points Sp6 and LI4 should never be stimulated during pregnancy, but they can be stimulated during labor.
Useful Tips to Provide Utmost Comfort with Acupressure during Labor Pain
- Following a few simple tips while stimulating the above-mentioned acupressure points can help you to provide utmost comfort and relief to your partner during labor pains.
- Begin the acupressure session with breathing exercises, but no need to do stretching at this stage.
- The acupressure points mentioned above can be used in any order and at any point during delivery.
- The points that reduce the discomfort of the early labor are points B28, B48, St29 and K3.
- The points that prepare the body for delivery and assist in delivery are Sp6, LI4 and GB21.
- Rub your partner’s feet during and after birth.
Stimulate these acupressure points in your birthing partner at any time during labor in order to provide relief and relaxation from agonizing back pain and prepare her body for a smooth delivery.