Reflexology during pregnancy aims to optimise the physical and emotional health of the expectant mother and also allows them time away from their busy life, to focus purely on themselves and their growing baby.
Reflexology is a profoundly relaxing and supportive treatment for women during pregnancy. It helps to prevent or alleviate discomfort arising from hormonal and physiological imbalance and restores the body’s equilibrium. Reflexology is also of great support postnatally.
Key benefits of maternity reflexology:
- It reduces stress, anxiety and insomnia
- It offers relief from sickness, vomiting and headaches
- It eases heartburn and constipation
- It reduces oedema (swelling, mainly of the feet and ankles)
- It increases energy levels during what can be a tiring experience
- It offers relief from physical problems; such as, back pain, muscular pain, abdominal pain, groin pain, ligament pain, SPD and pelvic pain
- Enjoy a healthier pregnancy, a shorter labour with less pain relief and a reduced chance of interventions; such as, forceps or C section
- Post-natal reflexology will aid recovery, boost energy levels, promote milk production and provide much needed relaxation. Babies often join in the reflexology session when they are newly born
This is a time of huge change in hormone levels, often full of anxieties and concerns whilst a mother to be adjusts to being pregnant. Some mothers seem to sail through pregnancy and are elated, others are more weepy and exhausted. The aim of reflexology during this trimester is to relax, de-stress and offer support.
Principally during the first three months of pregnancy I work on reflexes to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness, constipation, dizziness, anxiety, heartburn, headaches, fatigue, and breast tenderness.
In some instances, it may not be appropriate to work on certain pregnant clients during their first trimester, if risk factors are present. I work on a case by case basis and discuss suitability prior to treatment. However, as I offer fertility reflexology treatments and have been working with women of child bearing age since I qualified as a reflexologist in 2004, I have frequently given reflexology treatments to clients early in their pregnancies who do not know that they are pregnant.
Second and third trimester
In the second and third trimester, most of the discomforts of early pregnancy have gone. However, as the baby grows other physical symptoms may appear and anxiety levels can rise as the birth date approaches.
Reflexology can be used for general well-being and to help address health issues; such as, backache, pelvic pain, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), constipation, haemorrhoids, sinus problems, bleeding gums, fluid retention, swollen ankles (oedema), low mood, anxiety, breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, heartburn, acid reflux, increased urination and varicose veins. It is an ideal treatment for simply relieving tired and aching feet or poor circulation.
Preparing for labour
I often receive phone calls and emails from ladies asking if reflexology can bring on labour as they are either in the late stages of pregnancy or over their due date. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that! From week 37 of pregnancy I can help clients to relax and sleep well in readiness for labour; I can stretch and loosen the spine, stimulate the adrenals to support stamina, stimulate natural hormones (including oxytocin and natural endorphins) to help prepare the body, perform lymphatic drainage, stimulate relevant acupressure points and work the reproductive system reflexes. I can support and relax the expectant mother and support Mother Nature.
Reflexology treatments can help to rebalance the hormones after labour. It can also regulate the organs and glands, reducing emotional stress and the effects of chemical imbalances. Post-natal reflexology helps the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state, provides emotional support for the new mother and helps to promote relaxation at a potentially stressful time. It also stimulates a good supply of breast milk for the baby. The baby often joins the mother in the reclining chair during a reflexology treatment.
Research into maternity reflexology
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from women who feel they have benefitted from reflexology throughout their pregnancy. In fact, two recent studies have shown that reflexology in pregnancy significantly reduced pain during labour (1), reduced the length of the first of labour (1) and improved the quality of sleep in post-natal women (2).
(1) Valiani M. Et al (2010)
Reviewing the effect of Reflexology on pain and outcomes of labour. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 15th December 2010, page 302-310.
(2) Li C-Y et al (2011)
Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of using foot reflexology to improve quality of sleep amongst post-partum women. Midwifery. 27. page 181-186