It's past your due date and your baby doesn't seem to want to come out. What can you do?
Inducing labor usually involves giving the woman a drug that will stimulate contractions, but what if you don't want to use drugs?
That's where acupressure comes in as a natural remedy to induce labor contractions and help speed up the labor process. Acupressure can also help relieve labor pains.
This article covers how to stimulate pressure points to induce labor in pregnant women. These acupressure points are safe and effective, and can help reduce pain during labor too. They won't hurt your baby, either.
Acupressure for Inducing Labor
Acupressure is a form of alternative medicine that uses finger pressure points to stimulate certain areas of the body. These pressure points are located along energy meridian lines throughout the human body where energy flow is.
The theory behind acupressure is that stimulating these points with finger pressure increases circulation, improves digestion, relieves stress, and helps regulate hormones to help relieve a variety of pains and issues.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture and utilizes the same pressure points, but it does not require needles or other invasive procedures. Instead, acupressure uses fingers or other tools to press on specific pressure points.
Acupressure will help to increase blood flow and circulation to the uterus, regulate hormones, and stimulate contractions in the uterus. It can help ease the pain during the first stage of labor.
Before trying acupressure to help induce labor, always check with your doctor first. A pregnant woman's body is most open to acupressure treatments the first 10 to 12 weeks of the pregnancy and the last 4 weeks.
You can also use acupressure after your amniotic fluid has already broken (water breaking). However, if your amniotic fluid is brownish or greenish, you must notify your doctor immediately.
6 Acupressure Points That Might Help Induce Labor
These are the pressure points that may help to induce labor.
To stimulate these pressure points, follow these steps when applying pressure and massaging.
- Place 1-2 fingers or your thumb on each pressure point. The most fingers used to light pressure are the index and middle fingers because they offer more leverage when pressing.
- Press and hold the pressure point for 5 seconds. Slowly take deep breaths while applying firm pressure.
- Gently start to massage using a circular motion for 2 minutes at that point.
- For each pressure point, repeat the pressure and massage cycle 5 times.
You can repeat the pressure and massage cycle a few times throughout the day.
Many of these pressure points will help relieve other pains and conditions. Do note that if you are pregnant, but not ready to go into labor, it's best to avoid these pressure points.
1. Bladder 60 (B 60) - Kunlun or Kunlun Mountains
The B 60 is named after the Kunlun Mountains in Asia. The pressure point is found in the depression space between the outer ankle bone and the Achilles tendon on both legs.
With the location of this pressure point, it can be helpful for another person to stimulate the point for you.
Stimulating this pressure point will help to induce labor contractions and reduce labor pains. It can help encourage the baby to start descending during labor.
The Kunlun pressure point will also help reduce lower back pain and stiffness, neck pain, headaches, and dizziness.
2. Bladder 67 (B 67) - Zhiyin or Reaching Yin
The B 67 pressure point is located on the small toe (pinky toe) close to the outside edge of the nail. You can stimulate this point by pinching it with your thumb and index finger to apply pressure.
This is another point that is easiest to apply pressure to if you have someone else helping you, because it can be difficult to reach your little toe with a pregnant belly.
This pressure point is best known for helping to turn a baby in a breech position and promoting uterine contractions.
3. Spleen 6 (SP 6) - Sanyinjiao
The SP 6 acupressure point is located 3 finger widths above the inside of the ankle. This is another acupressure point that will help with the assistance of someone else.
This is a popular point because it's used for a variety of conditions including:
- Promote uterine contractions and labor.
- Release hormones to relieve menstrual cramps.
- Improving digestive and gastrointestinal conditions.
- Relieve abdominal bloating
- Strengthening the spleen and stomach
- Relieve insomnia.
- Reduce anxiety and stress.
- Calm the mind before going to bed.
4. Pericardium 8 (PC 8 or P 8) - Laogong or Labor Palace
The PC 8 pressure point is found in the center of your palm. The easiest way to find it is to bring your middle finger down to your palm, as if you're making a fist. Where the fingertip meets your palm is where the pressure point is.
Using your thumb from the other hand will be the easiest way to gently apply pressure.
As its Labor Palace name suggests, this pressure point is best used to help induce labor and reduce the active labor time.
5. Large Intestine 4 (LI 4) - Hegu or Union Valley
The LI 4 acupressure points are located on the back of the hands in the crease between the thumb and index fingers.
For pregnant women, this point will help induce labor. Regularly, this point is commonly stimulated for anxiety, headaches, and neck pain relief. It will also help you relax before going to bed.
6. Gallbladder 21 (GB 21) - Jianjing or The Shoulder Well
The GB 21 pressure points are found in the middle of both shoulders, between the end of the shoulder and the neck base.
Applying firm pressure to these points will help induce labor and relieve labor pains. Stimulation will also offer headache relief and prevention, along with neck and shoulder pain relief. It's also been shown to help with toothaches and jaw pain.
5 Acupressure Points to Reduce Pain During Labor
Acupressure and pressure points are most commonly used for pain relief and labor pains are no exception. A couple of the pressure points that induce labor can also help reduce pain during labor.
1. Gallbladder 21 (GB 21) - Jianjing or The Shoulder Well
The GB 21 is the same pressure point from above that helps induce labor. You can stimulate this point during labor contractions to reduce the pain.
2. Bladder 32 (B 32) - Ciliao
The B 32 pressure point is located halfway between the lower spine and the dimple above your butt.
Stimulating this point will help reduce pain and potentially shorten labor time.
The location of this pressure point can also be a little flexible as the baby descends during labor. As the baby moves down, you may find that moving the pressure down towards the center of the spine will also help. Move one thumb width at a time during labor.
3. Kidney 1 (KD 1) - Yongquan or Gushing Spring
The KID 1 acupressure point is found in the middle line of the foot sole. It's located one-third from your toes down the foot and two-thirds up from your heel.
With the location of this point on the soles of your feet, it's also best to have someone else apply pressure and lightly massage these points.
Stimulating this point helps to reduce anxiety and calm the mind during labor to encourage relaxation and lessen labor pains.
4. Large Intestine 4 (LI 4) - Hegu or Union Valley
The same LI 4 point located in the groove between your thumb and index finger that was mentioned above to induce labor. But it's also helpful to offer pain relief during labor.
5. Ear Shenmen (MA-TF1)
The Ear Shenmen pressure point is found on the inside of the upper ear. It's on the tip of the triangular indentation at the top of your ear, called the triangular fossa.
Apply soft pressure by pinching it between your thumb and pointer finger.
Stimulation of this point will help reduce pain and promote relaxation during labor.
Does Acupressure Really Help Induce Labor?
More scientific studies need to be conducted, but there are studies that have shown acupressure to be helpful in inducing labor and reducing labor pains.
One study showed a reduction of labor duration for participants. There was a 35% reduction in using other labor induction methods, 31% reduction in epidural analgesia use, and a 9% increase in the success rate of a natural birth.
Another study evaluated just the LI 4 pressure point for labor pain reduction. Pressure was applied for about 30 minutes during uterine contractions and showed a significant reduction in pain for participants.
A third study used the LI 4 and SP 6 pressure points and saw significant pain relief during labor as well.
It's always best to do this under the supervision of your doctor as well. They will be able to best assess a situation and let you know if acupressure is helping or if a medical induction will be needed.
Pressure Points to Induce Labor Final Thoughts
Acupressure does seem like an effective way to induce labor if done correctly. Acupressure is a safe and effective alternative therapy, but everyone's situation is unique. It's important to know what works for you and your body.
Even though there have been positive studies that showed shorter labor duration and reduction in labor pains, it's still recommended to still talk to your doctor about any potential risks when trying acupressure when pregnant.
Pressure Points to Induce Labor FAQs
Is Acupressure for Inducing Labor Safe?
Acupressure and stimulating pressure points are generally considered safe and effective when applied correctly. There have not been studies that show negative effects on the mother or fetus. When you're applying acupressure to induce labor, it's best to talk to your doctor about potential risks in your situation and if you have any health conditions.
How Long Do You Do Pressure Points to Induce Labor?
5-10 minutes total per pressure point every 1-2 hours will be sufficient. Pressure points for inducing labor are not meant to be pressed for a long time. That can potentially raise the risk of other problems.
Can a Foot Massage Induce Labor?
A foot massage is unlikely to induce labor because there are no pressure points on the feet that promote labor contractions. However, a foot rub can provide comfort and relaxation for the swollen feet that many pregnant women experience.
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/acupressure-points-inducing-labor
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323402
- Greatist: https://greatist.com/health/acupressure-points-inducing-labor
- Sustaining Health Acupuncture: https://www.sustaininghealthacupuncture.com/post/acupressure-guide-for-labor
- Debra Betts: https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupressure/birth/inducing-labour/