Due dates are only an estimate but for moms-to-be - both a beginning and an end.
Since it’s not uncommon for women to go into labor after their projected due date, many overdue expectant moms turn to alternative methods to gently coax their baby out of hiding.
Acupressure is one of the most popular options.
What is Shiatsu acupressure and how does it induce labor?
For post-due date moms looking for alternative means to induce labor, acupressure may be a viable option.
Especially if wanting to avoid medical (i.e. pitocin) induction.
Acupressure is more uncommon but is related to acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a Chinese practice of medicine that involves placing thin needles into specific areas of the body to control a certain part or organ.
This is mainly done to prevent illness, relieve pain and create a feeling of overall well-being.
Acupressure works a bit differently.
Instead of using needles, acupressure applies physical pressure to the points of the body’s meridian system.
The meridian system is considered to be the path of a person’s life energy.
Although people are able to receive acupressure as a standalone treatment, it’s mostly combined with other medical practices.
Most importantly, pregnant women must check with their doctors before trying out acupressure.
Women who are 10 to 12 weeks along and the last four weeks of their pregnancy are more vulnerable to the treatments.
Acupressure treatments can potentially increase the flow of blood to the uterus, stimulate contractions and influence unwanted hormonal responses.
So, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before trying it.
Now, it’s believed that there are six acupressure points that can help induce labor.
These points are:
1. The Spleen 6 Point
The spleen 6 point, also known as S6P, is regarded as one of the most common and versatile points of the body.
It is used for all sorts of medical conditions, which includes inducing labor.
The SP6 is situated on the backbone of the lower calf, which is right above your ankle.
Here’s what you can do; take your index finger and apply pressure to the point for a few seconds.
Take a minute break and repeat.
2. The Bladder 60 Point
Located just a few inches below the SP6 is the bladder 60 point, or BL60 for short.
This point is called Kunlun, which is a mountain range in Asia.
The BL60 point is located on the foot, within the depression between the Achilles tendon and ankle.
It’s used to induce labor, reduce the labor pain and prevent obstruction.
Here’s what you can do; use your thumb, apply mild pressure to the BL60 and massage it for about five minutes.
3. The Pericardium 8 Point
Also known as Laogong, the pericardium 8 point (PC8) is often regarded as one of the best ways to induce labor.
This point is situated in the middle of your palm, so it’s easily found by the tip of your middle finger.
Here’s what you can do; use your other hand’s thumb, apply very light pressure to the point and massage it for a few seconds.
4. The Bladder 67 Point
The bladder 67 point (BL67) is also referred to as Zhiyin and can be found on the outside of the pinky toe.
Specifically, it’s right next to the edge of the toenail.
The BL67 is considered to turn the fetus and invigorate uterine contractions.
Here’s what you can do; put moderate pressure on the point using your index finger and thumb, similar to how you pinch your toes.
5. The Large Intestine 4 Point
The large intestine 4 point (LI4) is actually the most common point in acupressure treatment.
Also referred to as Hegu, which means joining valley, this point is found on the back of your hand.
It’s between the webbing of your pointer finger and thumb.
Similar to the other points, the LI4 point is considered to promote labor. It’s also believed to boost immunity and prevent pain.
Here’s what you can do; put mild pressure on the point using your thumb and massage it for about a minute. Take a small break and repeat the process.
6. The Bladder 32 Point
Last, but not least, is the bladder 32 point or BL32, for short. Also called Ciliao, meaning second crevice, it’s located within the dimple of a person’s buttocks.
You can find it by moving your fingers down your spine until you’re right above an area called the intergluteal cleft.
It is believed that this point can relieve gynecological issues and trigger contractions.
Here’s what you can do; firmly press on the BL32 and massage it as you move towards the buttock.
Repeat this process for about five to eight minutes.
All in all, acupressure may be a viable way to induce labor without the use of medicine or mechanical induction.
However, make sure you think ahead and call your obstetrician or midwife before going ahead with a new form of treatment.
Shiatsu treatment for inducing birth
You may be wondering what shiatsu is.
In some ways, it’s similar to massages, reflexology and aromatherapy, however, it’s vastly different.
It uses the traditions of yin and yang, elements, zen and meridians.
It involves work with ligaments, skin and muscle to promote relaxation and release tension.
People also use shiatsu to induce labor.
Getting a shiatsu massage to induce labor can be very beneficial for birthing women.
A typical session by a professional can last up to an hour and a half.
The first 20 to 30 minutes is spent talking and assessing through listening and observation diagnosing.
You’ll be spending the other 40 to 50 minutes lying down on a futon, fully clothed.
Similar to acupressure, shiatsu utilizes pressure, which is generally relaxing even though it’s working on the deeper parts of the body.
Here’s how a shiatsu massage to induce labor works; the practitioner will use their hands, specifically their palms and thumbs, and apply pressure throughout your entire body.
Techniques like stretches, kneading and stroking are also included.
After a little while, you’ll be given time to relax and be asked for feedback.
It’s important that you keep in mind that shiatsu to induce labor isn’t just getting another massage.
It’s about guiding you through the process of becoming more self-aware of their body’s energy and self-development.
This is a very important part of the shiatsu practice.
Of course, not everyone is actively seeking to better themselves, and that’s completely fine.
However, the more responsible you are with your health, the more benefits you’ll be entitled to.
Choosing a shiatsu practitioner who undertands pregnacy
When medically cleared to proceed with acupressure, it's important that you choose a qualified Shiatsu practitioner.
Get references from your family, friends or even neighbors.
Or you can play it safe and ask your doctor to refer you.
Also, make sure to do research on the practitioner that was recommended.
Are there risks associated with shiatsu massage and inducing labor?
Although shiatsu is usually considered to be safe for pregnancy, it's not for every pregnant mother.
As with any kind of treatment, there are risks involved.
For instance, applying pressure can increase the blood flow to the uterus, which is dangerous for the baby.
Although rare, there is also a chance that acupressure and shiatsu can cause some women to miscarry.
Aside from pregnancy, there are other contributing factors.
These factors include the following medical conditions:
- Heart disease
- Conditions like osteoporosis
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Irritated skin
- Wounds that are not healed
- Recent fractures
- Leg stents
If you're suffering from any one of these, it's highly recommended that you stay away from acupressure and shiatsu.
In addition, you should consult with your obstetrician about the safety of other forms of alternative therapies as well.
Shiatsu's a great, natural option for pregnant moms wanting to induce
The thought of being a mother soon fills you with an endless amount of joy.
However, when you realize that you're a little past the due date, it can get a little concerning.
Most of the time, women go into labor because the baby wants to come out. But in other cases, you might have to take matters into your own hands by inducing labor.
Getting a shiatsu massage or performing acupressure is considered your best way to do so.
However, keep in mind that shiatsu massage is not for everyone.
Everyone's body is different, especially when it comes to pregnancy.
So, before even thinking of getting this kind of treatment, consult with your doctor first. They'll be able to determine whether or not it's safe for you to have acupressure treatment.
Finally, know that although it might seem like your pregnancy will go on forever, sooner or later your baby will make his or her debut.