Is being pregnant a pain in the you-know-what? Some moms-to-be glow; others ache. Often, pregnancy simply exacerbates the same physical weaknesses, such as a sore back, that you experienced before you got pregnant. But there is also suffering that is unique to the prenatal period, such as swollen ankles or sinus infections from all that extra blood flow. So what's the best way to cope with pregnancy pain? Many turn to acupressure, but what pressure points can relieve pregnancy pain?
To learn more about the most common types of pain during pregnancy and how acupuncture and acupressure can help, Romper spoke with Lauren O. Buckley, L.Ac, founder of South Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. A mom of five, Buckley has lots of personal and professional experience with using pressure points to relieve pain. She names three common prenatal complaints and their corresponding pressure points: headaches, a sore lower back, and swollen ankles.
For headache relief, apply pressure to your occipital point, "the posterior point on the occipital bone." This is located near the middle of the bottom of your skull.
If you're suffering from a sore lower back, you'll want to work on your spinal erectal muscles, along your shoulder blades next to your spine, and any tender points in your glutes (your butt).
And finally, if swollen ankles are weighing you down, Buckley recommends doing the "feet up the wall" yoga inversion to get your blood moving away from your feet.
How do all of these pressure points work exactly? According to The Chronic Pain Solution by James N. Dillard, M.D., D.C., C.Ac., "Acupressure employs firm, sustained fingertip pressure against certain sensitive points in the anatomy. It's based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which hold energy (or chi) that flows through the body along invisible channels. If this energy gets stuck or is otherwise unbalanced, the result is sickness and pain. According to TCM, you can release blocked energy by pressing on certain points that exist along these channels."
Acupuncture is also part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It takes the same approach as acupressure, but uses needles instead of fingers to tap pressure points. Buckley says that acupressure falls in the category of bodywork manipulation. When you use needles instead, she explains, the results are more profound and you feel the benefits quicker. However, she notes, your experience will differ depending on your individual circumstances and the practitioner you choose.
While you can try (or ask your partner to try) massaging your pressure points at home, Buckley says, "It's really hard to give yourself objective healing and stay relaxed while you're working on yourself." That's why she recommends visiting an acupuncture clinic for treatment. Besides pain relief, Buckley says regular acupuncture during your pregnancy can help with general prenatal wellness; first trimester symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and headaches; second trimester gripes like all the widening and stretching your body is doing under the influence of Relaxin hormone; and third trimester issues such as breached babies and induction.
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