Acupressure for birth preparation and labour

Amanda Bullock / September 16,2022

Point location for acupressure

Acupressure for birth preparation can be used from 36 weeks gestation. They are easy to use and many women find them useful both for birth preparation and during labour. From a Chinese medicine perspective we think these points are asking the body to work more effectively. Many of the acupressure points used in birth preparation and labour are not routinely used during pregnancy until 36 weeks gestation. If you are wanting to use acupressure during labour it is useful for to practice the point location and technique beforehand with your support people. You can also ask your acupuncturist to mark the point for you with a press needle or pen prior to labour.

Acupressure is the application of firm direct pressure to a point. Ask your acupuncturist for advice on how regularly you should use the points from 36 weeks for birth preparation. During labour you might like to use them with contractions or when you don’t have them. Acupressure in labour should not be uncomfortable. If a point is not feeling good then you can ask your support person to slightly readjust where they are applying pressure, adjust the pressure used or try a different point instead.

You can find handouts and videos on the Debra Betts website if you would like more information about the point locations and when to use certain points.

A.     Gallbladder 21 (GB21)

i.         Traditionally GB21 has a strong descending action. It is often used in birth preparation treatments, during labour or for certain breastfeeding difficulties due to this downward movement. It’s contraindicated during pregnancy until you’re 37 weeks and planning a vaginal birth.

ii.         Location – You can locate this point halfway between the tip of the shoulder and middle of the spine on the top of the shoulder. You can always ask your practitioner to mark the point for you with a press needle or pen.

iii.         When to use it – Your acupuncturist might use this point if your care provider has told you your baby is not yet engaged in the pelvis when they would expect it to be. It can also be used during labour to encourage your baby to move further down into your pelvis or just because it often releases tight shoulders and feels great when someone applies pressure to it.

iv.         How to use it – If you are using it during labour have your support person stand behind you whilst you sit on the birth ball and apply firm direct pressure with their thumbs. Feel free to explore where feels the best and have your person use that point either with or without a contraction. And always remember if something doesn’t feel right for you don’t do it. You could try to guide your support person to find a point that feels better, adjust their pressure or just don’t use it at all. Always trust your body to know what it needs.