Acupressure in Labour—Does It Work?

Acupressure is considered an alternative—or complementary option to standard labour pain relief therapies. But is it effective? And is it even safe?

Pregnant woman getting a back massage from her midwife

While a therapy may be described as natural, it doesn’t always make it the best (or safest) choice. Acupressure is indeed a natural, traditional treatment, with an ancient Chinese history; but it is, according to the NHS, a safe analgesic, too—provided you do it correctly.

As the name suggests, acupressure involves applying pressure to certain stimulatory points on the body, with the use of hands or elbows. It is thought to help induce labour, and potentially ease pain during the birth process—the theory that the firm movements help break up ‘blockages’ of pain-causing energy.

While there is no conclusive scientific foundation for the efficacy of acupressure, it is important to still enlist either a trained professional, or receive training, before attempting the treatment. Because certain pressure points could encourage “blood flow to the uterus, influence hormonal responses, and stimulate uterine contractions” (Healthline), you need to be aware of the specific no-go points, and not attempt to stimulate them before the 37th week of pregnancy.

So what is the difference between acupressure and acupuncture?

Unlike relying on hands or elbows to apply pressure, acupuncture makes use of thin needles. In short, acupressure is definitely the one to DIY (seriously; don’t try the latter yourself—professionals only).

Via madeformums