Acupuncture and acupressure for pain relief in labour

Both acupuncture and acupressure can provide a natural, safe and effective form of pain relief during labour. Acupuncture can be used prior to labour to relax the patient and help them feel more energised in preparation for labour, as well as assist in encouraging an efficient labour.

Although in most circumstances we are unable to attend births, we teach our patients how to self-administer acupressure on points on the hands and lower legs – a method that can be used during each phase of labour. We also teach their partner / support-person how to apply acupressure and thus actively take part both before and during labour. We recommend that both partners visit the clinic together if possible at approximately week 36 of the pregnancy so both are prepared in time for the birth.

Acupressure can reduce the intensity of contractions during labour significantly, and can also be used just prior to labour to help move things along if the patient then goes overdue in her pregnancy. A study1 by midwives reported that acupressure produces similar effects to acupuncture, in which women report a reduction in pain combined with an overall sense of calm, as well as a high level of satisfaction with their birth experience.

In addition to acupressure, your practitioner may apply press-seeds in the ears on points which have an analgesic effect and stimulate uterine contractions.2  Other areas can be addressed with acupuncture prior to labour such as back-ache and sciatica to help contribute to a more comfortable and successful labour.


  1. Skilton, I. and Flowerdew, M. Acupuncture and Labour A summary of results. Midwives Chronicle and Nursing Notes. May 1988.
  2. Betts, D. Acupressure Analgeisia Providing Pain Relief During Labour. Journal of Chinese Medicine, No. 59, January 1999.


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