The Ashlins team have been out and about teaching mums to be a bit of DIY – no not the nest building DIY – but DIY for pain relief in labour.

Down at Leyton Library for International Women’s Day acupuncturist Sally Lancaster and massage therapists Jane Hickson and Elizabeth Salazar were showing pregnant women and their family and friends, acupressure points they could use themselves to help relieve pain and promote a more efficient labour. The session was also attended by two midwives and one trainee who were keen to find out more.

Sally explains what Chinese medicine has to offer during the final weeks of pregnancy, and how best it can be used along side medical care to promote  the most natural and efficient labour possible. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Sally explains what Chinese medicine has to offer during the final weeks of pregnancy, and how best it can be used along side medical care to promote the most natural and efficient labour possible. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Acupressure point on the hand relieves pain and descends energy. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Acupressure point on the hand relieves pain and descends energy. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

 

So what is acupressure? It is part of traditional Chinese medicine and based on the same principles as acupuncture, a system of stimulating specific points on the body to optimise or balance its energy. Acupressure is the stimulation of these points with pressure, usually with fingers and thumbs, although sometimes, forearms, elbows or even feet can be used.

This point four finger widths about the ankle bone connects to the uterus and helps with the quality and strength of contractions. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

This point four finger widths about the ankle bone connects to the uterus and helps with the quality and strength of contractions. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Sally demonstrates how to locate a point on the hand which relives pain and descends energy. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Sally demonstrates how to locate a point on the hand which relives pain and descends energy. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

A number of studies have shown specific points can be used in labour and childbirth to relieve pain, increase the speed and quality of contractions and calm the woman. Safe, non invasive and easy to learn acupressure is very practical during labour as it allows the woman to move about freely and be in any position: sitting, leaning against a wall or on all fours. It can also be used in water.

Woman using acupressure on a point on the sole of her foot which is calming and useful with fear and anxiety during labour. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Woman using acupressure on a point on the sole of her foot which is calming and useful with fear and anxiety during labour. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

The other major benefit of using acupressure in labour is it allows the woman’s birthing partner to be closely and actively involved in the birth.

Elizabeth and Jane demonstrate how to stimulate a point on the top of the  shoulder which encourages energy to descend. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Elizabeth and Jane demonstrate how to stimulate a point on the top of the shoulder which encourages energy to descend. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Having fun getting familiar with where and how to stimulate a point on the top  of the shoulder which encourages energy to descend. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Having fun getting familiar with where and how to stimulate a point on the top of the shoulder which encourages energy to descend. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Participants at the session had fun learning where the points and found they were easy to find and simple to use. No massage skills are required, just simple pressure that feels good for the person receiving.

Ideally the woman and her birthing partner become familiar with the points and practice using them with light pressure in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Maximum benefit is gained if acupressure is used as early as possible during labour i.e. before its most intense stage. Acupressure is not  a substitute for medical intervention but if used in the early stages of labour it may mean there is no need to progress to medical pain relief.

Mother and daughter listen attentively as Sally explains what Chinese medicine has to offer during the final weeks of pregnancy, and how best it  can be used along side medical care to promote the most natural and efficient  labour possible. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Mother and daughter listen attentively as Sally explains what Chinese medicine has to offer during the final weeks of pregnancy, and how best it can be used along side medical care to promote the most natural and efficient labour possible.
Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Intrigued - Participants passed round a moxa stick as Sally explained how it can is used to turn a baby in breech position. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Intrigued – Participants passed round a moxa stick as Sally explained how it can is used to turn a baby in breech position. Photo: Kirsti Abernethy

Sally Lancaster is a registered acupuncturist and available at Ashlins Natural Health.  To book an appointment with her just call 020 8250 5268.

 

For more detail on how acupressure can help during pregnancy, see Sally’s website.