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Pain relief during childbirth

Jianjing GB-21

Point Location

When you draw an imaginary line between the bony prominence of the neck (C7), and the top of the shoulder joint (the acromion process), this point lies midway along this curved line, at the highest point of the shoulder muscle. It will feel tender with a numbing/ buzzing/ warming sensation (this sensation varies with individuals). The sensation is stronger on this point than any other points along this line You can find this point on yourself by bringing your hand diagonally across your chest and palpating with your index finger along this “imaginary line.”

Acupressure Technique

It is important that support people apply firm downwards pressure with their thumb/ knuckle/ elbow. This acupressure point responds to pressure, massaging and rubbing the area can be irritating for women during labour.

When using the thumbs the pressure needs to come from the arms rather than the thumb joint – otherwise people will end up with very sore thumbs.

It is not unusual for support people to resort to using the ends of two wooden spoons, but it is preferable to start with using hands when possible. These acupressure points are usually used with the support person applying pressure using their knuckles on both shoulders together, but I know of women who have successfully used this on themselves using only one shoulder at a time.

The pressure can be applied at the beginning of each contraction or continual gentle pressure applied that is intensified during contractions.

This acupressure point has a descending action to aide the first and second stages of labour and can stimulate uterine contractions.

This acupressure point is to be used with caution during pregnancy

Ciliao BL-32

Point Location

This acupressure point lies midway between the dimples above the buttocks and the lumbar spine (please note that Ciliao BL-32 is not the dimple). If you cannot see the dimples clearly, It lies approximately one of the women’s index finger lengths above the top of the buttock crease, approximately one thumb width either side of the spine. When you place your finger on Ciliao BL-32 you can feel the small depression of the sacral foramen where the point lies. As labour begins you can start here and as the labour progresses move down the spine (approximately one thumb width at a time moving slightly closer to the centre of the spine until as you arrive at the top of the buttock crease, your knuckles will be touching). The timing of this movement downwards will depend on the women, who will usually instinctually tell the support person to apply pressure lower as the baby descends during labour.

Acupressure Technique

The support person places their knuckles into the acupressure points and applies firm pressure. This pressure can be increased by the women rocking backwards into the support person at the beginning of a contraction.

From feedback these appear to be the most frequently used points. Producing a pleasant “anaesthetising” effect on the strength of the contractions, noticeably “wearing off” when the pressure is discontinued and building up again when recommenced.

There is a distinct sensation produced when you are pressing into the sacral foramen. This may be felt as a numbness, warmth, tingling, aching or buzzing. If there is sharp pain the support person is pressing on the surrounding bone and need to readjust their pressure slightly.

It is important to note that for some women the sacral foramen are not exactly in a straight line. Be guided by the women’s feedback.

This acupressure point is most frequently used with women leaning or kneeling against a wall, table or bed. It can also be effectively used in water; it just requires a little flexibility on behalf of the support people!

Buttock Point

Point Location

This point is in a direct horizontal line from the top of the buttock crease. If you press along this line there will be a tender point approximately two thirds of the distance between the buttock crease and the hipbone.

Acupressure Technique

When the support person places their hands on the woman’s hips they can push their thumbs into this point, helping the woman to move in rotating movements during contractions.

This point can be used as the women enters transition, either with direct pressure or combined with strong downward massage from Ciliao BL-32 out to this point.

Hand Point

Point Location

These points lie along the creases of the hands where the fingers join the palm. These are said to help release endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) into the body.

Acupressure Technique

Women can hold a small comb in the palm of their hand so that the teeth of the comb are touching these points. They can then grip the comb during contractions, applying pressure to the level that feels the most useful.

Yongquan KID-1

Point Location

This point lies in depression found in the top one third of the sole of the foot. It can be easily located as a depression formed when the foot is placed in planter flexion (by pulling the toes towards the sole of the foot).

Acupressure Technique

The support person can place strong pressure in this depression with their knuckle, pushing inwards and upwards towards the big toe.

This acupressure point has a useful relaxing effect and can be used at any time during labour. It has been noted as being especially useful effective in producing a calming effect during transition. It is easily accessed at this time if the woman is positioned on her knees.

This acupressure point is especially useful during a labour where there are feelings of panic (for example, going into a labour with a unpleasant previous birth experience).

This acupressure point can also be utilized by placing a seasickness band over the foot so that the plastic press button lies over the point. In this way the point is stimulated as the women walks around during labour.

Hegu L.I.-4

Point Location

This point is found between the first and second metacarpal bones (the bones of the thumb and first finger). It lies at the highest point formed when the thumb is brought to rest against the index finger.

Acupressure Technique

The women or her support person can firm pressure with their thumb. This acupressure point has a dull achy feeling when located correctly.

Acupressure to this point can be used to providing general pain relief in labour. It can be very useful as women head towards transition. Midwives and women have reported on the effectiveness of using ice on this point (with the ice cubes placed in a small plastic bag or wrapped in a cloth and then placed over the point).

Hegu L.I.-4 has a function of stimulating efficient contractions. It can be useful during labour if contractions are of irregular intensity.

A useful acupressure point during the second stage of labour once the cervix has fully dilated. It aids the body’s efforts to move the baby down through the birth canal and can be especially useful if women are tired and not pushing effectively. This acupressure point is to be used with caution during pregnancy

Kunlun BL-60

Point Location

This acupressure point is found in a depression midway between the tip of the lateral malleolus (the external ankle bone) and the outer edge of the achilles tendon.

Acupressure Technique

A support person can apply pressure to this acupressure point by gripping the women’s ankles and applying firm pressure with their thumbs.

This acupressure point is frequently used in the first stage of labour; it has a descending action and can be used to promote the baby to descend during labour. This acupressure point is to be used with caution during pregnancy.

Sanyinjiao SP-6

Point Location

This acupressure point is located using four of the woman’s finger widths above the tip of the medial malleous (the shin bone on the inside of the ankle). This area will often be tender and the point is found when you slide your finger off the edge of the tibia bone, towards the inside of the leg. It is useful to press on the tibia when first locating this point as pressing on this bone produces a very different sensation from the acupressure point.

Acupressure Technique

The women or support person can apply direct pressure with their index finger or thumb.

This acupressure point has an effect in helping the cervix to dilate and can be used to help the cervix to dilate efficiently. Women having their first child or those who have experienced dilation difficulties in a previous birth might like to use this point in early labour. It can be used by applying firm acupressure on one leg at a time for approximately one minute, then using it on the opposite leg 20 – 30 minutes later. Once labour has become established (the contractions have become efficient and regular), acupressure can be discontinued.

This acupressure point will often be tender and after using it some women report feeling their cervix stretching and contractions strengthening.

Sourced from : Debra Betts

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