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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 1 2017 09:00AM

WNT founder and massage therapist, Jennie Duck, shares her experience of therapies and teachings from colleagues during her pregnancy last year

We have been planning a pregnancy information day (Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond) at West Norwood Therapies to share the broad experience our team has and the support we can offer people during their pregnancy journey. And this has led me to think back to my not-at-all-distant (but a lifeltime ago!) past and how I used the various therapies on offer during my pregnancy…


Acupuncture and pregnancy go hand in hand for me. I actually had acupuncture way before I was pregnant to treat polycystic ovaries. My sessions with Philippa cleared that up, regulated my cycle and I had an easy conception. I kept having acupuncture throughout pregnancy, mostly for general wellbeing, I found it very grounding and balancing (physically and emotionally). The therapist matters too, and Philippa’s steady presence, interest in my progress and thoughtful advice around diet, movement and labour was a good support.

She also armed my husband and me with some acupressure techniques and moxa. The former was my primary pain relief all through labour (secondary was 2 paracetemol around 2am!) and was a helpful way of involving my husband in birth preparation and supporting me through birth itself. Then we used the moxa a week or so after to help recovery (we were going to use it before too as my baby was breech, but he flipped himself a few days before) and I’ve since had some acupuncture to help full recovery internally – turns out that can all take a while to get back to normal, it’s quite a thing growing and birthing a baby!


Pilates was another fantastic support to me from pre-conception right through labour. I had a mixture of one-to-one sessions and prenatal classes, both with Matthew before he joined WNT, and I felt so strong through my pregnancy and immediate recovery from labour. Though I work with bodies, working with your own is a different matter and I learned a lot from my sessions about how to move safely with a giant bump sticking out of me and to build strength in the most necessary areas to support both the baby and my body. More surprisingly, Pilates with Matthew also helped me relax - there was a good level of focus on the breath and some visualisations and relaxation exercises that really made a difference. We also incorporated some of the exercises in our birth preparation with my husband (lots of tandem squats!) and we now own 2 exercise balls - one at my desk and the other in the bedroom for bouncing baby Willow to sleep at 3am :-)

The concept of prenatal pilates was simple but powerful: Build enough strength to support the baby and help your body manage the extra weight safely, and be able to relax these same developed muscles to be able to get the baby worked!


As a massage therapist I am obviously a big advocate of massage through all stages of life and I never go very long without getting on the massage table myself. During pregnancy the desire to have your muscles kneaded is especially acute and the relief to your lower back and shoulders is particularly sweet! Durning my last trimester my husband gave me a foot massage and lower back rub every evening. Unfortunately this hasn't become a permanent fixture, our baby is the only one who gets a daily massage these days...but that again was helpful for my husband to feel involved and for me to feel relief and connection to him. I saw my colleagues for fuller, professional treatment too - Veronica is a very understanding therapist around pregnancy changes and her treatments really feel nurturing which is what you need in pregnancy. I had some lovely deep massage with Erika too, in fact she helped Willow make his way down - I had a massage with her on Friday afternoon and went into labour the following Monday...


While acupuncture, pilates and massage were regular fixtures for me during my pregnancy, I only saw Yinka for osteopathy a handful of times. This was of course limited by time and finance, I couldn't manage all 4 so regularly! But I did call on Yinka when I felt like things were getting a bit twingy. Once when my hip felt like it was a bit unstable, once when I had a twinge in my groin and another time in the early days when I fell off my bike and tweaked my neck. Each time it wasn't long to get back on track and any longer-term issues were averted. I find osteopathy helpful for getting a better understanding of pain and biomechanics and a really empowering treatment to have.

I know I am lucky to work in a world where I have this support structure around me and it may not be possible to have as many different treatments as consistently as I have, but I hope that sharing my experience will help other women on their pregnancy journey to see what support there is available and to make informed choices about what could best benefit you. Our pregnancy information day is being planned to this same effect, so do come along if you are interested to hear more.

More information about Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, our information day for women, couples and birth partners.

Jennie Duck is back from maternity leave, working a reduced hours and only seeing existing clients.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 25 2017 11:00AM

Our acupuncturist with an interest in women's health, Philippa Summers, shares how acupuncture can help you in the last stages of pregnancy as you prepare to meet your baby.

Acupuncture can help you prepare for birth but come sooner rather than later – ideally weekly from 36 weeks to get maximum benefit.

Many women approaching their date for hospital induction seek acupuncture as a more natural method of induction. However, the real benefit of acupuncture is achieved by focussing on preparing for birth, rather than on induction. Acupuncture can play a positive influential role in helping you to prepare for birth both physically and emotionally, increasing the chance of things starting and progressing naturally.

Midwives have reported that acupuncture treatment starting at around 36 weeks and focussed on preparation for birth can make a significant difference, reducing the need for induction as well as other interventions. They report specific effects following acupuncture treatment, such as changes in the cervix, position of the baby and positive emotional shifts that they observe have a direct beneficial effect on the resulting labour. Even if intervention is needed to induce labour, having acupuncture to help you to prepare for the birth can increase the chances of your birth progressing without further intervention.

How can acupuncture help?

Treatment will be tailored to your individual needs but can help with the following:

• Help the cervix to ripen (the points are not anywhere near your cervix!)

• Encourage your baby to move into the optimal anterior position

• Aid relaxation and softening of the tissues that help to prepare the pelvis and cervix for birth

• Help you to feel calm which has a physical effect too

• Encourage release and build-up of endorphins to help with pain relief

• Deal with any other symptoms that may be troubling you

• Help you to be at your best and well rested in readiness for the birth

The importance of feeling positive and calm

Acupuncture can help you to feel calm and relaxed. There may be fears about the labour and maybe also other issues that are worrying you. By helping you to feel calm it is less likely that labour will be delayed and more likely that once started labour will proceed uninterrupted.

What if I come at 40 weeks or more, is it too late?

Even if you come at 40 weeks or more, my focus will be to find out how you feel and help you to prepare for the birth, both physically and mentally. Treatment is be similar to earlier preparation treatments and can still be of great value. If you are facing an imminent hospital induction then, with the consent of your midwife or obstetrician, it may be appropriate to add points aimed at gently stimulating the onset of contractions.

Acupressure for Natural Pain Relief in Labour

You may also be interested in finding out how you and your partner can use acupressure for natural pain relief during labour. Please contact me if you would like to know more.


Summary of research into acupuncture during pregnancy and acupressure during labour:

Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20

Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6.

Smith CA, Collins CT, Crowther CA, Levett KM. Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD009232. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009232.

Philippa is at West Norwood Therapies on Tuesday and Friday mornings

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 14 2016 09:13AM

Our acupuncturist with a special interest in women's health, fertility and pregnancy looks at the benefits of using acupressure in labour

Acupressure for natural pain relief in labour
Acupressure for natural pain relief in labour

Calling all soon-to-be Mums, Dads and other birthing partners!

Learn how to use acupressure as an easy and effective way to relieve pain and encourage a straight forward and efficient labour. Women reported that when the pressure was taken off the pain increased in intensity within 3 or 4 contractions and reduced immediately when pressure was reapplied. It is quick and easy to learn and can make a real difference. Empower yourselves!

With feedback from the woman about what feels right and helps, it gives Dads and birthing partners an active focussed role, helping them to stay connected and supportive throughout labour and beyond.

• Reduce the intensity of pain.

• Encourage a more efficient shorter labour.

• Reduce the likelihood of epidurals and strong painkillers.

• Promote calm and helps the woman stay in control.

• Help to restart labour and stimulate contractions.

• Encourage babies in breech position to turn into head down position.

• Post-natal treatments to restore energy and encourage milk flow.

• Can be used anywhere: at home, in hospital and in water.

You can learn these simple and effective techniques via a half hour DVD or a one hour online course put together by Debra Betts and Tom Kennedy. Learn exactly how to find and how to use the eight points. It is advisable to begin practising with very light pressure from about 36 weeks so that when the contractions eventually begin you are familiar with finding the points and working together. You will also learn how to use smokeless moxa sticks to warm points for restorative post-natal treatments and to encourage babies in the breech position to turn, the latter ideally at 34 to 36 weeks. The results can be extraordinary.

The material is simply presented and users have said that they were empowered and felt more confident about their birth. It gave both partners a useful focus, helping them to stay calm and in control.

How Can I Help?

If you would like to feel more confident about finding and using the points and the moxa then I offer a hands-on follow up session for you and your birthing partner(s) to guide you through. I can also supply you with high quality moxa sticks.

Acupuncture can also be useful leading up to the birth, helping you to feel calm and preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour. Treatment can be adapted to deal with specific symptoms. Midwives report that women receiving preparatory acupuncture consistently had an increased chance of a more efficient labour with less chance of needing medical intervention. Weekly sessions from 36 weeks are recommended.

Resources and more information

Online acupressure for labour course (60 minutes): £16.

Acupressure for labour DVD (34 mins) including booklet (£11.99 plus P&P). The link name is misleading, it is definitely about acupressure and not acupuncture. There is also an app version if that is preferred, which can be found by searching via iTunes or Google Play (£7.99).

Debra Bett’s website contains a wealth of information on acupressure and acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth including research summaries, feedback from users and midwives, plus downloads and youtube links on how to find the points.

Best Wishes

I wish you all a positive birth, as close to your desired plan as possible. Stay flexible and keep an open mind.

Philippa is at West Norwood Therapies on Tuesday and Friday mornings

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