I'm currently less than two weeks away from my due date and feeling all the aches and pains. It's not comfortable, but I know I'm basically riding a luxury cruise ship right now compared to what's to come. Birthing my babies has been the most empowering thing I've ever done, but I still dread those contractions. I'm eager to naturally relieve some of the pain, so when I heard that there are some pressure points that can relieve labor pains, I found out more with the help of an acupuncturist.
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner has been practicing acupuncture for 20 years and tells Romper she has been honored to attend the births of many patients. But uniquely enough, she's been on the other side of the equation as well: Trattner herself brought an acupuncturist friend and colleague into labor during the birth of her daughter. While her labor was a tough 36 hours long, Trattner swears that her colleague's use of acupuncture kept the pain manageable and allowed her to birth without an epidural, as she had planned. They were both exhausted, she jokes, but it worked.
According to Trattner, these are the pressure points you need to know in labor:
- Large Intestine 4 - "This point is located on the hand, in the web of the thumb and first finger. Pressure applied here will help start labor (it is contraindicated during pregnancy for this reason), and also helps with pain, headaches, and calming of the mind."
- Urinary Bladder 60 - "This point is right behind the ankle bone on the outer side. If you trace your finger off the bone between the Achilles tendon and the ankle bone, you will find it. This point provides pain relief and helps transition through labor."
- Spleen 6 - "Spleen 6 is located on the inner calf, about three fingers up from the inner ankle bone. You can push these two points together by squeezing them. Grasp the underside of the leg in a C formation with the thumb and index finger pushing the four points simultaneously. This point is the command point of the lower abdomen and also helps transition through labor."
- Pericardium 6 - "For nausea and vomiting during labor and or anxiety, use P6. It is located in the light inside part of the arm, two fingers up from the wrist crease between the tendons. Place the thumb of each hand and cup the arm so you can support the mother's arms while in labor. Cup underneath so it is easier to squeeze the points."
- Kidney 1 - "This point is used to ground a mother, and is a root point for all points on the body. Go to the underside of the foot. Trace your finger right under the ball of the foot and you will find an indentation as you move up to the first and second toes. There is a very tiny V there and is usually tender. This one is great for anxiety, nervousness, and panic."
To maximize the utilization of pressure points, Trattner stresses the benefit of taking a licensed acupuncturist into the Labor and Delivery room with you. "I recommend having one with whom you have made a previous plan," she tells Romper in an exclusive interview. "We are the only professionals highly skilled to needle these spots and others points during delivery."
Unsure if your health care provider would be down for alternative medicine in the delivery room? It doesn't hurt to ask. In fact, according to Trattner, most hospitals, birthing centers and doulas welcome a highly skilled acupuncturist into the birthing room. To find a licensed acupuncture physician go to www.nccaom.org and find a practitioner who is board certified.
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