Constipation during pregnancy is often caused by a blockage of energy, or Qi, in your large intestine. In this piece, Rebecca provides a practical tool to help you overcome this unpleasant challenge during the nine months of your pregnancy. Acupressure is a safe technique for relieving constipation during pregnancy. By using acupressure on your wrist, you, your partner or your midwife can help to start the flow of Qi in your body, thereby relieving your constipation symptoms.
Acupressure for constipation during pregnancy
Chinese medicine has been in use for over 3,000 years. It’s a system of medicine that looks at your body in a completely different way to what many of us are used to and it’s extremely beneficial for pregnancy, birth and maternal health. Chinese medicine takes a holistic view of health – in this approach, your mind, body and spirit are connected. This concept is never more apparent than when a woman is birthing. If her mind and body are connected, magic happens!
To explain how Chinese medicine works, let’s look at the common symptom of constipation during pregnancy as an example. According to Chinese medicine, constipation is seen as Qi (energy) that is either stagnating or has become too dry. The problem can be due to a number of reasons. Low iron levels mean many women take supplements and some brands can be difficult to digest, leading to blocks in your system. There may be excess heat in your body, drying out the stool. It may be that your large intestine energy is stagnated through improper food or lack of exercise which, again, could lead to a block. Your large intestine energy should go down and out of your body daily, even during pregnancy.
Essentially, the underlying issue needs to be addressed. Acupuncture or acupressure techniques can effectively re-regulate bowel movements.
There are many acupressure points on your body and some can help relieve constipation. These points lie on energy channels called meridians which, from a Chinese medicine perspective, make up our body’s anatomy.
These acupressure points work particularly well when constipation is mild, which is great, as this allows you to use your own hands to access the acupressure points. But if your symptoms are more severe, you will need acupuncture to affect your body more deeply and bring about lasting change.
In acupuncture, fine needles are used to remove blockages, supplement deficiencies or clear excesses in meridians to bring the body back to balance. There are 12 main meridians in the human body, and these are connected to inner organs. Qi (pronounced “chee”) flows through these meridians. This is why we can place pressure or a fine needle on the outside and it helps to benefit the inside.
There are a couple of points that will help with constipation, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to recommend one to try that works with many of my clients. It’s important to note that acupressure is different to massage because it’s sustained pressure on a certain point to bring about a benefit. By using the following acupressure techniques, you can help to get the Qi flowing again and bring more moisture to the area if needed.
Before you begin, rate your constipation on a scale of one to ten (ten being the worst). This will help you to gauge the change after using acupressure. Rate your condition again after applying the acupressure for the recommended duration (read on for details).
We are going to use the San Jiao number six (SJ-6) point. This is found on the San Jiao meridian on your outer arm (see picture).
This meridian regulates the water passages of your body. To locate the point, start in the middle of your outer wrist crease – the side that sees the sun. Take four fingers of your other hand and lay them across from your wrist crease going up your arm. The point is found in the middle of your arm at the edge of your four fingers. (To be technical it’s 3 cun [1cun is the width of your thumb] up from the wrist crease on the lateral aspect of the arm. It’s located between the radius and the extensor digitorum communis muscle, close to the border of the radius.]
You can use either arm and either hand as acupressure points are mirrored on both sides of the body.
Press deeply. If it hurts in a “good” way, you are on the right spot – if not, move a little more towards your elbow crease and try again. Keep moving around this spot until you find the “good hurt”. Hold this point for 3–5 minutes and do this 2–3 times a day.
You should notice a difference after a couple of days, if not sooner. If a friend or partner is around, ask them to help. It’s good to get them involved and always feels better when someone else does it!
There are many acupressure points that help with constipation. If you don’t find this point to be effective, you may need a different one, as everyone is different. It could also mean you need to change your diet. I had one client whose constipation always got better after acupuncture but then got worse as she ate curries for a week (hot food) until she saw me again. The role of diet cannot be underestimated.
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