While numerous studies have been conducted on whether acupressure helps to induce labor, reports are mixed and there is no conclusive data as to how fast it works (if at all).
You should only try acupressure if your:
- Pregnancy is without complications
- Baby is in normal position
- Due date has passed
- Doctor has given you approval
Acupressure cannot guarantee the progression of labor or help you predict how soon labor will start. However, according to the available research, acupressure has no known negative impact on mother or baby and may help ease labor pain.
If you are interested in using acupressure for it’s pain relief effects, discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your condition and determine whether acupressure is appropriate and safe for you.
What is acupressure?
Acupressure is an alternative medicinal therapy that originated in China. It operates on the same principle as acupuncture, which is that the body functions according to the flow of energy called “Chi.” If this energy gets blocked anywhere in the body, it can result in illness.
The only difference between acupressure and acupuncture is that in acupressure, specific points of the body are massaged instead of being pricked with needles. Enough evidence exists to recommend its use to treat joint pain, headache, and other chronic pain conditions.
Is acupressure effective in inducing labor?
Some practitioners of acupressure believe that the therapy helps improve blood flow to the uterus, stimulating uterine contractions. However, large-scale evidence is lacking.
Two review articles published in 2017 analyzed all previous articles on acupressure but did not find conclusive evidence regarding the benefits of acupressure for inducing labor. However, the articles did mention that acupressure can help shorten labor duration and alleviate labor pain.
Another review article in 2016 concluded that acupressure may help reduce the need for C-sections in certain cases.
So far, all studies on the effectiveness of acupressure have produced mixed results. This has made it difficult for experts to recommend acupressure for inducing labor as an option over already-proven, conventional options.
When do doctors induce labor?
Not every delivery needs labor induction. But in some cases, doctors may decide that inducing labor through medical intervention is necessary to protect the health of both mother and baby. This happens when one of the following conditions is present:
- Water has broken but it’s not followed by labor contractions
- Due date has passed by 2 weeks
- Oligohydramnios (inadequate amniotic fluid surrounding the baby)
- Maternal health issues, such as:
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Smith CA, Armour M, Dahlen HG. Acupuncture or Acupressure for Induction of Labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;10:CD002962. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29036756/
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