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Self Induction

Acupressure as a Method of Self-Induction of Labor

Shiatsu is sometimes used as a method of natural self-induction of labor or to increase the strength of contractions during childbirth.

What Is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a 20th Century Japanese therapy that is based on the ancient Chinese therapy of acupressure combined with the modern study of anatomy and physiology. The word Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure” which concisely describes how Shiatsu is applied. Specific points on the anatomy are located and sustained pressure is held.

East Meets West

A Shiatsu practitioner with an Eastern philosophy would explain that the pressure on specific points of the meridians stimulate and balance the chi energy flowing through the body and enables the body to heal itself.

If a Shiatsu practitioner works within a Western philosophy, she might explain that the pressure stimulates nerves which travel to the spine and stimulate body functions in a different area of the body.

Regardless of the explanation, many have found that the application of pressure at certain points does have a therapeutic effect. We are particularly interested in pressure points that can benefit a laboring woman.

Acupressure for Childbirth

Shiatus has been used as a technique for the self induction labor, and also as a technique to augment or strengthen contractions once labor has started.

Self Induction with Shiatsu

Two specific points are described below which can be stimulated through acupressure for labor induction. These points are the SP-6 and the LI-4.

No research was identified when demonstrated the effectiveness of using acupressure for self-induction.

The only risks to this method would be the risk of preterm labor if the points are stimulated before full lung maturity. For this reason, this should not be done prior to 39 weeks of gestation.

Shiatsu to Augment Labor

The same points used for self-induction of labor are also used to enhance contractions of a woman who is already in labor.

No research was found indicating that shiatsu reduces the length of labor. The author can note antecodatally that women have had closer contractions when this has been used.

How to Use Shiatsu for Childbirth


The FAIA is located on the lower, inner leg above the ankle bone. (This is pronounced fu hee a, similar to “fajita” for those who enjoy Mexican cuisine.)

The technical name is SP-6, or Spleen 6, which is what a Shiatsu therapist would call it.

Four Above Inner Ankle
We often use the term FAIA as it helps people to remember the location better. FAIA since it stands for Four Above the Inner Ankle bone.

To find it on yourself, locate the inner ankle bone and lay your hand on your leg right over the ankle bone. All finger-tips should be on your shin bone and your smallest finger should be touching the top of the ankle bone as well. The pad of your index finger will be four finger breaths above the inner ankle bone. This is the FAIA point.

Self Induction of Labor
For natural labor induction, the pressure should be applied for about sixty seconds every three to five minutes for 20 to 30 minutes. This can be done once a day after 39 weeks.

Labor Augmentation
During labor firm downward pressure (towards the leg bone) can be applied to this point throughout the contraction as the mother focuses and breathes. This is said to make the contractions more effective and rhythmic. Many women have also reported that it eases the discomfort of their contractions.

Bony V

The Bony V is another Shiatsu point that enhances contractions. The technical name is Large Intestine 4, or LI-4.

This point has the additional benefits of relieving headaches and constipation, though it needs to be reiterated again that the points should not be stimulated until the baby is mature enough to be born.

To find the Bony V, put your thumb on the fleshy pad between the base of the thumb and the base of the index finger on the back of the opposite hand. The thumb should be pointing towards the wrist point.

Now slowly slide the thumb towards the wrist feeling for the place where the metatarsal bone of the thumb and the metatarsal of the index finger form a V. That is the Bony V.

Labor Self Induction
As with the FAIA point, the Bony V can be stimulated for sixty seconds every three to five minutes. Repeat for 20 to 30 minutes once a day after 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Augmenting Labor Contractions
Once labor has started, contractions can be augmented through stimulation of the Bony V. Firm pressure can be applied during a contraction and intermixed with hand massage for relaxation.

Return from Self Induction with Shiatsu to the Labor Induction Main Page.

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By Karen Newell Copyright 2003 - 2012 Better Childbirth Outcomes - All Rights Reserved
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA