8 Pressure Points to Induce Labor: Acupressure During Pregnancy

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Pregnant woman thinking about acupressure
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Your feet hurt. You’re tired. You’re anxious. You’re excited. It’s been a physical and emotional rollercoaster over the last nine months, but now you’re ready to get off the ride and welcome your new baby to the world. The only problem? Those pesky signs of labor just aren’t showing up.

Pregnant woman thinking about acupressure
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Can acupressure help induce labor? Yes, actually. There’s a growing body of evidence that pressure points can actually play a role in inducing labor.

Some of you may be wondering what pressure points are and if the practice is safe for you and your baby. We’ll address these concerns, explain what this alternative therapy is and which pressure points are most effective for stimulating labor.

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure to induce labor
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When you see the word acupressure, another term may come to mind: acupuncture. The two are closely related, and both use pressure at certain points on the body to facilitate a certain reaction. In this case, we’re using pressure points to help induce labor, but you can also use them to reduce pain, balance hormones, ease tension and treat a host of other issues. Acupressure has been around for over 5,000 years, and is still an important part of Chinese medicine.

Unlike acupuncture, which uses thin needles, acupressure applies physical pressure to certain points on the body’s meridian system. While fingers are typically used to apply pressure, you may also use feet, elbows, knees and legs.

The goal is to release any energy blockages in the body, which helps move things along. In the case of pregnancy, acupressure may also encourage the baby to move into the optimal position for delivery.

Is Acupressure Safe During Pregnancy?

Before we discuss how acupressure works and which points are used to stimulate labor, it’s important to talk about safety.

Before you even consider acupressure, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Certain points should be avoided during pregnancy, and in some cases, this therapy may not be safe for mom or baby. Acupressure is most effective during the first 10-12 and final four weeks of pregnancy. It should be noted that this therapy will boost blood flow to the uterus and may influence your hormonal responses, so it’s advised that you speak to your doctor before trying acupressure. In some cases, acupressure can actually cause uterine contractions.

8 Acupressure Points to Induce Labor

There are several pressure points on the body that can be used to induce labor, but the eight major points associated with pregnancy and labor include:

Picture showing bladder 60
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Bladder 60

The Bladder 60 point (BL60) sits just behind the ankle bone. BL60 has a fitting name: Kunlun, which is a mountain range in Asia. You’ll find the Kunlun point in the small depression between the Achilles tendon and the ankle.

This pressure point is known to not only induce labor, but also relieve labor and reduce obstruction. Therapists say this point is useful to stimulate labor if your baby has yet to drop. It may also encourage your baby to descend in the early stages of labor.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Start by applying light pressure to the BL60 point with your thumb, and massage the area for a few minutes.

[Read more about Massage]

② Spleen 6

Hand point to the spleen 6 position
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Also known as Sanyinjiao, the Spleen 6 (SP6) point is one of the most common and versatile pressure points on the body. Sanyinjiao, which means “three yin intersection,” is located just above the ankle on the rear of the shinbone.

SP6 has been shown to reduce pain and shorten labor time, which is always welcomed news for moms. It’s also believed that this point encourages labor by strengthening contractions and ripening the cervix.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Locate the pressure point – it’s about four fingers up from the backside of your calf. Using your index finger, apply pressure to the point for a few seconds. Take a break for a minute, and repeat.

③ Bladder 67

The Bladder 67 point is known as Zhiyin, which translates to “reaching yin,” and is located near the edge of your pinky toe’s nail.

Zhiyin is believed to stimulate contractions and position the baby for labor, so it’s especially helpful for breech babies.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Using your index and thumb, apply firm pressure to the point.

 Pericardium 8

Pericardium 8 Point on hand
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Pericardium 8 (PC8) is also known as Laogong, which translates to “labor palace.” But labor is not used in the same sense here – we’re talking about physical labor.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Laogong is located at the center of the palm. To find the point, make a fist. PC8 is where your middle fingertip reaches your palm. Massage this point using the thumb on your opposite hand.

Large Intestine 4

Large Intestine 4 (LI4) is referred to as Hegu, which means “joining valley.” It’s the most common pressure point, and you’ll find it on the back of your hand between your thumb and index finger.

Stimulating this point will help strengthen contractions, making them more efficient and consistent. This point can also be used to reduce pain during labor.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Use your thumb to apply soft pressure to the point, and massage for one minute. Take a one minute break, and repeat.

Bladder 32

Bladder 32 point on body
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Referred to as the Ciliao, the Bladder 32 (BL32) point is situated in the intergluteal cleft, or the dimple of your buttocks.

While it’s most commonly used to resolve gynecological issues, Ciliao may also be used when you’re entering transition to facilitate labor.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Apply firm pressure to the point, and massage in a downward motion towards the buttock. Repeat several times for a few minutes.

Gallbladder 21

Also known as Jian Jing, the Gallbladder 21 point is helpful for stimulating contractions and may help the baby descend into the pelvis.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Jian Jing is actually located on the upper body, between the edge of the shoulder and the side of the neck. This point can be activated by using your thumb and middle finger to pinch the point and apply downward pressure.

Kidney 1

Known as Yongquan, Kidney 1 has a relaxing effect on the body and can be especially useful for women who are panicking during labor.

During transition, this pressure point can be especially calming.

How to Stimulate This Pressure Point:

Yongquan is located on the bottom of the foot, about one-third of the way down from the base of the second toe and the heel. To stimulate this pressure point, apply moderate pressure and massage for one minute. Take a break, and repeat.

Acupressure can be especially helpful at inducing labor, but pregnant women must be cautious when giving this therapy a try. Be sure to check with you doctor first to ensure that it’s safe for you and your baby. Many women have enjoyed pain relief and quicker labor by taking advantage of acupressure’s many benefits. These eight points are most commonly used to help move the labor process along and ensure that the baby is properly positioned for birth.

If you plan on giving acupressure a try, a licensed acupressure therapist will maximize the benefits and ensure that the pressure points are stimulated properly.

Related: 10 Ways to Induce Labor Naturally 

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