If you're looking for natural methods for comfort in childbirth, complementary therapies have been proven to be helpful! Acupressure has been shown to relieve pain and shorten labor!
In 2012, a group of researchers studied the effects of using the acupressure point known as Hoku, or Large Intestine 4 (LI4), or Joining of the Valley on 100 birthing women.
Women who received the acupressure had significantly less pain and shorter labors than women who didn't receive the acupressure!
As the women's labor progressed and dilation increased, so did the intensity of pain for both groups, but the pain levels were less intense for the women in the acupressure group than in the control group and the pain reduction lasted about 120 minutes after using acupressure.
Plus, for the women in the acupressure group had shorter labors than the women who did not receive acupressure. In the acupressure group, the first phase of labor was 2.44 hours as compared to 3.90 hours in the non-acupressure group. Plus, 21% of the acupressure group had second stage labor over 30 minutes whereas 45% of the control group had second stage labor over 30 minutes!
Plus, the women in the acupressure group expressed greater satisfaction with their childbirth experience than the women in the non-acupressure group.
Acupressure is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It's a touch therapy used to balance the body's energy by pressing on points along the body's 12 meridians or energy lines. There are about 365 acupressure points located along the body's 23 meridians.
The acupressure point Hoku is located on the back of the hand, in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Press up under the bone towards the index finger to feel its effects.
Activating the energy of Hoku is said to promote descending qi. In childbirth, this point is used to relieve pain, to help promote let down when nursing, to promote childbirth by stimulating the uterus. Because it is known to have a stimulating effect of labor, Hoku is not to be used during pregnancy.
The researchers recruited 100 women, putting 50 women in the acupressure group and 50 women in the control group. The women included were similar in that: none had the experienced acupressure before, it was their first to third pregnancy, they were at least 37 weeks pregnant with only one baby, and they all went into labor spontaneously.
Once the women began labor, the researchers performed this pattern of acupressure: during each contraction, they put pressure on Hoku on both hands every 10 seconds (with 2 seconds of rest) for 20 minutes. The women's pain intensity was measured before and after the acupressure at 20 and 60 minutes, then every 60 minutes until the onset of the second stage of labor, and then again once after the second stage of labor commenced and again 24 hours after birth.
The women who received the acupressure had significantly less pain than the women who didn't receive the acupressure! As labor progressed and dilation increased, so did the intensity of pain for both groups, but the pain levels were less intense for the women in the acupressure group than in the control group and the pain reduction lasted about 120 minutes after using acupressure.
This study showed, for this small sample size, that using simple acupressure on Hoku reduced pain, decreased duration of labor and increased satisfaction for women in childbirth.
Want a simple guide to relaxation and family bonding in pregnancy and increased comfort in childbirth using shiatsu and acupressure in the childbearing year?
Here's an easy-to-read guide to a simple shiatsu routine for comfort in pregnancy & labor and a simple acupressure routine to induce birthing.
The study was published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, and is called "Effects of LI4 Acupressure on Labor Pain in the First Stage of Labor".