Objective: To evaluate the effect of acupressure administered during the active phase of labor on nulliparous women's ratings of labor pain.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Public hospital in India.
Sample: Seventy-one women randomized to receive acupressure at acupuncture point spleen 6 (SP6) on both legs during contractions over a 30-minute period (acupressure group), 71 women to receive light touch at SP6 on both legs during the same period of time (touch group) and 70 women to receive standard care (standard care group).
Methods: Experience of in-labor pain was assessed by visual analog scale at baseline before treatment, immediately after treatment, and at 30, 60 and 120 minutes after treatment.
Main outcome measure: Labor pain intensity at different time intervals after treatment compared with before treatment.
Results: A reduction of in-labor pain was found in the acupressure group and was most noticeable immediately after treatment (acupressure group vs. standard care group p < 0.001; acupressure group vs. touch group p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Acupressure seems to reduce pain during the active phase of labor in nulliparous women giving birth in a context in which social support and epidural analgesia are not available. However, the treatment effect is small which suggests that acupressure may be most effective during the initial phase of labor.