Essential Acupressure & Reflexology Points for Pregnancy
From Michelle Ebbin
Hey Moms-To-Be out there! If you don’t know it already, the 9-plus months of pregnancy can be the most exciting and rewarding, but also physically and emotionally challenging and stressful months of your life. Many expectant mothers spend much of their focusing on “baby prep” or “family prep,” if there are other siblings, and often end up neglecting their own wellbeing. A calm mom-to-be is essential to a healthy pregnancy, and no matter what’s happening in your life IT IS POSSIBLE to find moments of relaxation throughout the day.
One of the most relaxing ways to relieve stress during pregnancy is a soothing massage. Here are some safe and super effective acupressure and reflexology techniques from my awesome friend, touch therapy expert and author of “The Touch Remedy: Hands-On Solutions to De-Stress Your Life” (HarperElixer), Michelle Ebbin, that can help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy.
*PREGNANCY PRECAUTIONS: As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy health, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider.
3 Areas to Avoid Massaging During Pregnancy that could trigger contractions:
- Reflexology Areas to the Uterus & Ovaries: Two areas that you should avoid during pregnancy are the reflexology areas directly connected to the uterus and ovaries, which are located on the inside and outside of both ankles in the hollow areas just under the anklebones. Pressing here is a direct channel to the uterus and ovaries, so no deep massaging the ankles during pregnancy! A gentle, soothing foot massage is fine, and highly recommended. However, during labor these are areas you can massage deeply to stimulate contractions and get labor started.
- Sp6 Acupressure Point: Another area to avoid is located on the inner ankle area, just three finger widths above the inner ankle bone (called the Sp6 Acupressure point).
- Union Valley Acupressure Point (L14): Another area to avoid is the acupressure point called the “Union Valley”(L14) point, which is located on both hands in the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger where the bones meet. Deep pressure on this point may cause uterine contractions that are unsafe in early stages of pregnancy.
- ANTI-NAUSEA REMEDY – Acupressure to Ease Morning Sickness.
How to get rid of nausea: Place your right thumb on your left wrist, about 2 finger-widths below the left wrist crease. Press deeply between the two tendons and hold for 20-30 seconds. If you can’t see the tendons, bend your hand towards your elbow crease and claw your fingers, this will bring the tendons up for you to see. This acupressure point is called “Pericardium Six” and it is connected to the stomach. Pressing here can calm your mind and relieve nausea. Do this on both wrists.
- HEARTBURN ACUPRESSURE REMEDY
Press your thumb or index finger firmly on the webbing between your second and third toes, just at the base of the toes. Press here for 5 seconds and then make small circles in one direction and then the other. Do this for 10 -15 seconds on each foot. In Chinese Medicine, this is Acupressure Stomach Pt 44, and pressing here can help take away the “heat” or warm sensation caused by heartburn.
- CONSTIPATION ACUPRESSURE REMEDY
Measure three fingers width below your kneecap, and press your index and middle fingers in the area about one finger-width to the right of your shinbone (on the outer edge). Press firmly for 10 seconds then make small circles in one direction then the other for another 10-20 seconds. This acupressure point is called the “Three Mile” Point (or Stomach 36) and it can help constipation, as well as relieve stomach and intestinal disorders, promotes digestion and strengthens the whole body.
- HEADACHE REMEDY – Relieve & prevent headaches without medication:
Reflexology Remedy: Sit cross-legged and pinch the fleshy pad of each big toe with your thumb and index finger for ten seconds. Release and repeat. Next, make small circles with your thumbs in the fleshy part of the big toes. Pressing here stimulates the reflex area to the brain and can help release congested energy, soothe headaches, and send healing energy throughout the entire body.
- “The Third Eye” Acupressure point: Between your eyebrows, there is a small depression on the level of your brows, above the nose. With your middle or index fingers, apply gentle but firm pressure to that area for one minute. This can relieve anxiety, stress and headaches so you can sleep better.
- “Peaceful Sleep” point: Place your middle fingers behind your ears at the base of the skull, slightly above jaw-level. You’ll feel a slight depression and the spot with feel a bit tender. Press here firmly for 20 seconds, release and repeat several times.
- STRESS-RELIEF REMEDY – for Pregnancy & Delivery
A recent study showed that acupressure is an effective, non-invasive, and easily applicable technique to reduce labor pain.
Acupressure: Place the fingertips of your three middle fingers about three finger-widths below the collarbone on either side of your upper chest. Press firmly and make small circles with your fingers for 15 seconds. Then, applying the same pressure, slowly drag your fingertips down your chest. Repeat this several times covering the area below the collarbone on both sides. In acupressure, these are called the “Letting Go” Points and can relieve stress quickly.
Reflexology: Bend one leg over the other and place your thumbs on center of the sole of your foot. Press firmly for 10 seconds then make small circles in one direction and then the other. Do this for several minutes then switch feet and repeat on the other side. This stimulates the reflex area to the Solar Plexus, the “nerve center of the body.” Pressing here can relax the entire body and bring instant stress relief.
- REFLEXOLOGY POINTS TO START LABOR
Interestingly, the pressure points that you should AVOID during pregnancy are the exact points you should stimulate to encourage labor. These areas are located on the inside and outside of both ankles in the hollow areas just under the anklebones, and they’re the Reflexology Areas to the Uterus & Ovaries.
Pressing firmly in these areas for several minute can stimulate the flow of energy to the uterus and ovaries, and can help stimulate contractions to get labor started.
During pregnancy, women suffer from all sorts of physical and emotional discomforts. While traditional medicine offers few ways of alleviating these problems, studies indicate that massage therapy during pregnancy can:
- Reduce stress & anxiety
- Relieve nausea
- Reduce headaches
- Relieve muscle aches, back pain & joint pains
- Improve circulation
- Reduce swelling (edema)
- Improve sleep
- Decrease symptoms of depression
- Improve labor outcomes & newborn health
Two studies by Tiffany Field, Ph.D., at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute, showed just how beneficial massage can be during pregnancy. In one study, 26 pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group for 5 weeks and received 20-minute sessions twice a week. Both groups reported feeling less anxious and less leg pain. However, only the massage therapy group reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the end of the study. In addition, the massage group had a decrease in urinary stress hormone levels (norepinephrine), fewer complications during labor, and their infants had fewer postnatal complications (e.g., less prematurity). Wow! If that’s not a reason to use massage during pregnancy I don’t know what is. But there’s more…
In another study researchers found that massage therapy reduced pain (as well as depression, anxiety and anger) in pregnant women, alleviated prenatal depression in both parents, and improved their relationships. The partners who massaged the pregnant women reported less depressed mood, anxiety and anger. The study stated, “These data suggest that not only mood states but also relationships improve mutually when depressed pregnant women are massaged by their partners.”
Michelle Ebbin is a renowned expert in touch therapy and natural wellness. She’s an author, inventor, on-air personality, and mother of three. Since founding Basic Knead in 1994, Michelle has been committed to increasing awareness of the healing power of touch. Michelle appears regularly in the media, including The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, The View, and Home and Family, to discuss the benefits of touch and and teach touch therapy techniques to relieve stress, soothe the body and mind, and improve overall wellbeing. She’s the spokesperson for SOOTHE, the world’s largest and fastest-growing on demand massage service that’s now in over 50 major cities across the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.
A graduate of Columbia University, Phillips Academy Andover, and the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing, Michelle has authored four books on massage, produced six award-winning massage DVD’s, and created best-selling massage products that have helped thousands of people discover the power of touch. She’s a Certified Infant Massage Instructor and member of the International Association of Infant Massage, American Massage Association, and Reflexology Association of America.
Michelle is on the Biller Center Advisory Board for City of Hope, a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, where she is helping to develop a massage program within their Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. Her goal is to make touch therapy available to all patients undergoing medical treatment, as well as to their caregivers and family members. She is also developing a program to make massage therapy available to doctors, nurses and all the medical staff. A portion of the proceeds of The Touch Remedy will go directly to City of Hope.
For more on Michele check out her website: http://www.basicknead.comand order her fantastic book The touch remedy https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Remedy-Hands–Solutions–Stress/dp/006239245X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455252635&sr=8-1&keywords=the+touch+remedy