Pregnancy and birth can be a major transformative life journey on many levels – physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual. Acupuncture and acupressure are valuable tools to support a woman and her partner on this journey.
In the weeks leading up to birth, acupuncture is a wonderful support to help prepare the mind and body. I recommend starting regular acupuncture from 36 or 37 weeks, and evidence suggests this is more helpful than only seeking acupuncture as an alternate method of induction at term. During these weeks, acupuncture promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, prepares your ligaments for the coming birth, and enhances cervical ripening. When the nervous system is in a parasympathetic (rest/relaxed) mode, blood flow is directed to the uterus, hormones are supportive (increased oxytocin and endorphins) and muscle tension and the perception of pain is reduced. This is a state of mind and body that supports the approaching birthing process. Giving yourself the dedicated “time out” for regular acupuncture sessions in the final weeks can go a long way to support this natural process.
Acupressure can be continued at home to help prepare for birth, and specifically used during labour. Evidence has shown that acupressure during labour can reduce the pain intensity and the need for pharmacological pain relief, as well as reducing the likelihood of needing a caesarean section. Acupressure also provides the support person (such as the woman’s partner) a valuable and central role to support her throughout the labouring; building intimacy, trust and a shared experience in the journey.
The literature suggests that greater satisfaction with childbirth is linked with a woman’s sense of agency in decision-making and participation during pregnancy and birth. For this reason, as well as for women who desire a natural birth without pharmacological analgesia, acupressure can provide a sense of empowerment and agency through the labour.
The acupressure points to use are easy to learn, and can be accessed freely online here. If a personal session is preferred, you can also book a session with me to go through the points or keep an eye out on my Events page for group workshops.
Beyond birth, it is from Chinese medicine that the “zuo yuezi” practice of postnatal care (literally “confinement”) comes – the 40 days after birth where the all needs of the new mother are taken care of traditionally by her extended family, so she can be nourished, bond with her new baby and rebuild her strength. But that is a subject for another time…
As always, if you have any questions you are welcome to get in touch.