One of my favourite modalities that I use with my clients is acupressure. Acupressure is fantastic because it requires no tools other than knowledge of the points and it can be used whenever or wherever the need arises. It is also wonderful because the birthing person can self-treat or a laboring partner/doula can do it for the laboring person.
Acupressure is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is a modality that is said to be more than 2000 years old. However, don’t confuse acupressure with acupuncture! Finger pressure is used instead of needles, so it’s safe for those to practice even if not trained in TCM.
Acupressure sends signals through the channels (called meridians) of the body to promote self-regulation and self-healing. Acupressure can help the body’s energy (qi) to flow if it has become blocked, stagnant or slow.
I teach my clients the different points, how they can self-administer acupressure and I also show their birth partners where these points are. So many of the points are great in the days leading up to labour, during early labour, when labour is established and in the immediate postpartum.
The pressure should be held quite firmly and for several minutes at a time. This should not feel like a massage but rather a steady, strong, unmoving force pointed at a single small area. I encourage both the giver and receiver to try to relax their face and other large muscles as much as possible. Deep breathing is important so that the body is further encouraged to relax and allow the qi to flow. A single-pointed focus on the person receiving the treatment should also be of key importance, sending them vibes of relaxation and positivity.
Two of my favourite points to stimulate are gallbladder 21 and pericardium 6.
This is quite a tender point but still should be pressed quite firmly. There are even some sites that will encourage you to get a wooden spoon to use for applying pressure. This isn’t the most pleasant sensation when you’re not experiencing pain, but is an EXCELLENT point to help with pain management. Many birthing people ask for more, more, more pressure and that is when the wooden spoons that before seemed extreme com in handy.
I choose it as one of my favourite points because it is easy to locate and also really intuitive for most people; do you know someone (or are you someone?) who likes to have their shoulders rubbed to release tension or pain? Probably! It’s also great because it is hard to self-treat so it’s a great way for birth partners to feel like they can physically support their partner even if they can’t physically take away the pain sensations. For some birthing people, having their partner close and physically engaging is also particularly comforting and important (even if only in retrospect).
This is another of my favourite points because it can be used right away in pregnancy! Pericardium 6 is a favourite for easing morning sickness as well as any nausea and vomiting symptoms during pregnancy. Some of my clients also find that they begin to experience motion sickness instead of morning sickness so this point also works for that.
This point is safe to use at any point during pregnancy (and equally as effective in pregnant as not-pregnant people if you know someone who might want to try it out).
This point is also great because it can be self-stimulated if you use those seasickness bands sold at most drug or superstores. They are normally made of a stretchy silicone with a large, circular metal part that applies pressure. If this is worn around that point and the band is tight enough, you may experience relief from nausea and be able to go about your day with both hands free – best of both worlds!
Try them out and let me know how it goes!
And if you’ve tried acupressure before, let me know what you think in the comments below!