Acupressure is the application of moderate to firm pressure to various points over the body to produce a therapeutic effect. These points are the same as used for acupuncture – it is just the method of stimulating these points that is different. Acupressure allows you to treat yourself (or others) anywhere, at any time, using only your hands and some basic knowledge. It is a very effective way to bring about positive changes in your body and mind, and is very useful tool to have up your sleeve!
Here are some acupressure points that might be helpful for the post-natal period. As you are pressing the points, close your eyes, focus on making your breathing slow and regular, and put your attention on a healing thought, affirmation or image to enhance the therapeutic process. Some suggestions for affirmations to repeat to yourself whilst doing the acupressure points are given below for each situation.
To help with after pains:
Contraction or cramping type pains in the days after birth (also known as 'after pains') are normal as the uterus shrinks back into its normal size and location. These can vary in intensity, and are usually more intense wtih each successive pregnancy due to the change in uterus muscle tone.
You can gently rub warm blackcurrant oil or warm citrus oil in a clockwise motion around your belly button around 50 times to bring some relief. You can also use the following acupressure points:
LI 4 - Joining Valley
This point is named because of the location in the valley-like depression between your thumb and forefinger. It is actually contraindicated during pregnancy because of its stimulating effect on the uterine musculature. However, for treating after pains this is exactly why this point is so helpful. This is also one of the best acupressure points for treating any kind of pain, which is why you might have heard of using it to treat headaches. Find this point in the fleshy web between your thumb and forefinger. Apply pressure until you feel a kind of soreness, and hold it for 30 seconds. Release, relax, and then repeat again at least two more times. Do the same on the opposite hand.
SP 6 "Meeting of Three Yin"
This point is the meeting place of the three yin channels (also known as meridians) on the leg - the Spleen, Liver, and Kidney. As such, it is a powerful point, and one of its main functions is for treating gynaecological/menstrual problems. Similarly to LI 4 above, this point is contraindicated in pregnancy because it can stimulate uterine contractions. However, for treating after pains, this point can work like magic to reduce the intensity of the contractions. Find the point by measuring four finger-widths above the medial malleolus (the inside ankle bone) and then finding a depression behind the border of the tibia.
A mother can press this point herself just before a feed, or preferably a support person could place pressure on this point while the mother begins to breastfeed her baby. Hold this point until it feels sore for three minutes on each side.
Suggested affirmations: "I trust my body to heal itself perfectly. This is what my body was designed to do. I breathe deeply and know healing is taking place"
To boost Energy:
ST-36 “Leg Three Miles”
This point is so named because on long journeys across China, pressure on this point would help soldiers to walk for three more miles. Thus, not surprisingly, it is one of the most powerful points on the body for increasing energy and enhancing immunity. Find this point four finger-widths below the lower border of the knee cap, and one finger-width lateral to the tibia. Use moderate pressure with your thumb until you feel an achy sensation. Hold it for two to five minutes on each leg.
LI-10 “Arm Three Miles”
This point is the natural complement to ST-36 on the upper part of the body. It also strongly boosts energy and strengthens all the vital organs. If you can imagine a line from the outer corner of the elbow crease to the tip of the index finger, you can find this point three finger-widths below the elbow crease along this line. Apply firm pressure on this point with your thumb until you feel soreness, and hold for one minute on each arm.
Suggested affirmations: “I am filled with vitality and radiant energy. I embrace the rejuvenation of my body and mind. I am enthusiastic about my life”
To reduce stress and anxiety:
“Gate of Spirit” - as the name implies, this is one of the most famous points for calming the spirit and balancing the emotions. Find this point at the end of the wrist crease, on a line directly below your little finger. Apply moderate pressure with your thumb for three to five minutes on each side.
“Inner Gate” - this point traditionally opens an inner pathway to the heart and the chest area. PC-6 has a strong calming effect and in Chinese medicine is used to “quiet the spirit” to alleviate stress and anxiety. Find this point by measuring three finger-widths above the wrist crease, and in between the two tendons on the inside of your forearm. Press on this point with your thumb, using moderate pressure, for two to five minutes on each side.
Suggested affirmations: “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace. I give and receive nourishment in perfect balance. I am safe and all is well.”
I hope this post gives you some ideas about how you can incorporate simple things like a few acupressure points to make a big difference in your life at this very precious time. If you are interested in learning more about acupressure, I can whole-heartedly recommend Michael Reed Gach's books and online courses. I will be writing more about acupressure in upcoming posts as well.
Do make sure you also read my other posts on this topic so far, including:
"Sitting Moon" - Chinese Wisdom for the Postpartum period
Wellbeing checklist for new mothers
Self Healing Techniques for the Postnatal period, Part One - Mother warming and meditation
Self Healing Techniques for the Postnatal period, Part Three - Nutrition for new mums
And as always, if you have enjoyed this article and think it might be able to help someone else as well, please do forward this post onto them, or simply click the buttons below to share it on Facebook.
With best wishes, stay tuned for Part Three!
Acupuncture and Fertility
Acupuncture and Stress
Acupuncture and Depression
Acupuncture and Anxiety
Acupuncture and Immunity
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