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 WestA 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 ChildbirthShiatus 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 ShiatsuTwo 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 LaborThe 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
FAIA 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.)
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Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA