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Reflexology during pregnancy

Reflexology pregnancy pregnant utrecht
Reflexology is a natural, grounding and relaxing treatment to have during pregnancy.

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of reflexology during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a time of fatigue, backache, headache, raging hormones, nausea, swollen hands and feet, digestive issues. Reflexology can greatly benefit a pregnant woman by restoring balance, boosting circulation and activating the body’s own healing mechanism.

“Reflexology as a natural therapy complements the natural state of pregnancy.”

My clients receiving consistent reflexology during pregnancy report feeling a sense of well-being, less back ache, improved quality of sleep, better and more regular digestion.

Clients who have been having regular reflexology during the pre-conception phase, are familiar with reflexology and have a relationship with me are often happy to continue with regular treatments to support them during early pregnancy.  Others come to me when the pregnancy is more established often 16 to 20 weeks, when they have more energy to get to my treatment rooms after a day in the office and when nausea has abated.  At this stage they are more than familiar with the side effects of their own pregnancy and happy to take on anything that can help them feel better!

Anyone experiencing high blood pressure during pregnancy I suggest that you speak with your doctor or midwife about possible benefits of regular reflexology there is some evidence that reflexology may help to lower blood pressure.

One of my pregnant clients recently told me she knew it was time to come again for a treatment because her lower back had started hurting again.  It is my privilege to have the opportunity to help her and her baby through the pregnancy.

In my experience having regular reflexology during the second half of pregnancy provides the greatest benefit to mother and baby, some joke that it is a two for one offer as the baby feels the benefits of a relaxed mum too.

I am always happy to meet with or speak to expectant mothers if they have any questions about having reflexology with me during their pregnancy.

Some myths about reflexology during pregnancy

Myth number 1 Reflexology is not recommended in early pregnancy.

The chances of miscarriage are naturally higher during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and some reflexologists are cautious of being associated with a less than happy outcome, so they will avoid treating pregnant women during this time. Their decision, however, has nothing to do with any risk of reflexology.  Miscarriages happen in pregnancy, often because the foetus is not viable and it happens whether the mother has reflexology or not.

Myth number 2 Reflexology should avoid the ankle area until the baby is due to avoid going into labour

Working the reflexes of the ankle (which corresponds with the pelvic area) when labour is due may help to boost circulation of labour hormones and nutrients and help your body to shift into labour mode at 40 weeks but at 12 weeks when your body and your hormones are focused on growing a baby and reflexology will only support the body to do that, for example it might help to relax the lower back and help to relieve back ache common in pregnancy.

If stimulating the ankle area during pregnancy really did cause pre term labour then surely wearing ankle boots would be avoided during pregnancy? perhaps pregnant women would be warned to avoid walking in barefoot?  The term ‘barefoot and pregnant’ would be a redundant!

At the end of the day every expectant mother needs to do her own research and make her own decision about any treatment she has during pregnancy and that includes reflexology.

Myth number 3 Reflexology is not recommended in pregnancy.

Such a shame that expectant mothers are missing out on a treatment that can support them throughout their pregnancy.  Some of the reported benefits of reflexology include

  • Provides a sense of well-being and helps prevent problems from starting
  • Reduces swelling in feet and ankles
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Relieves tired, aching feet
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Aids digestion
  • The mother feels supported mentally, physically and emotionally throughout pregnancy
  • Reflexology during labour can intensify contractions and shortens labour as a result

 

The research

Tony Porter, founder of ART Reflexology with whom I have trained, has himself treated thousands of women throughout pregnancy.  Tony says it is a time when both mother-to-be and foetus can benefit from treatment.  He blogged about the myths surrounding reflexology recently.

Research into the effect of foot reflexology on anxiety, pain and outcomes of the labour found that reflexology reduces labor pain intensity, duration of labor, anxiety, frequency distribution of natural delivery and increases Apgar scores.

Dr Gowri Motha, an obstetrician and founder investigated reflexology during pregnancy and gestation.  “Despite the fact that we have found reflexology to be safe during pregnancy, occasionally there have been reports that midwives have told expectant mothers not to have reflexology during pregnancy as it might provoke miscarriage or bring on early labour.  Dr Motha was asked to investigate the impact of regular reflexology”  on gestation. 

Her research found that the majority of babies were born at 40 weeks and only 1.7% of babies were born at 36 weeks; these babies were twins (it is quite common for twins to arrive early).

In a separate study in an antenatal clinic, Dr. Motha found that weekly reflexology treatments of between 30 to 45 minutes normalised hypertension, any pregnant lady with suspected high blood pressure should speak with the nurse or doctor.

 

Contraindications:  deep vein thrombosis.  Reflexology boosts circulation so it is contra indicated in the presence of a deep vein thrombosis.

Areas to avoid: spleen 6, an acupuncture point the width of one hand from the peak of the medial ankle.  In Chinese medicine, this point tones the uterus so, in line in my training I avoid this point other than a gentle lower leg massage until due date.

 

Painful periods – reflexology offers a natural alternative.

Painful periods
[Photo credit: Steven Depolo]
Non steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDs) are commonly taken to help to manage painful and often debilitating period pain.  Painful periods is also referred to as the term ‘dysmenorrhea’.

This article details the effects of chronic use of NSAIDs including gastro intestinal problems and kidney failure.

Further research examined the effects of reflexology to ibuprofen.  Reflexology was found to reduce both the intensity and the duration of the pain, furthermore the benefits were found to continue even after the reflexology treatments had stopped.  Bearing in mind the long term effects of NSAID medication reflexology was superior to Ibuprofen on reducing dysmenorrhea and its treatment effect continued even after discontinuing the intervention in the third cycle.

I know that ART reflexology techniques were developed when Antony Porter collaborated with Consultant Gynaecologist Lindsay McMillan FRCOG.  Together they carried out a small study comparing regular reflexology with surgical intervention.  After ten months they began to correlate figures.  The success in alleviating severe dysmenorrhoea with reflexology was 85 to 90% which was almost double the figure for surgery.  At that point Dr McMillan stopped recommending surgery and referred his patients instead for reflexology.   He stated that “in the management of chronic pelvic pain, reflexology is an invaluable and often essential tool. The evidence would suggest that for the treatment of common menstrual pain, reflexology is the best non-invasive, non-drug treatment.”

Reflexology is a wonderful healing therapy, it boosts circulation and helps the body to rebalance.

If you suffer from painful periods, why not try clinical reflexology and see the benefits for yourself.  If you would like to make an appointment or to contact me to discuss the potential benefits of reflexology, please contact me using the website form.  I work in Utrecht Oost and have flexible hours including Saturdays.

The benefits of reflexology can surprise you.

Before I trained as a reflexologist (or rather, before I discovered reflexology) if anyone had told me that somebody working on my feet (!) would help me feel better in any other part of my body I would have walked away thinking that they were a little bit crazy.  Indeed, I only ever tried reflexology because I was desperate and a masseuse that I trusted convinced me that that it was worth trying and that there were many benefits.  My own experience of reflexology is that it has really helped me to better manage stress and stress related symptoms, to manage a thyroid condition and to say goodbye to extremely painful periods.
Reflexology Utrecht

Last week I participated in a Tony Porter’s ART courses (Advanced Reflexology Techniques).  I have been using this powerful technique for about 10 years – it is a wonderful addition to traditional reflexology techniques – I originally qualified with the International Institute of Reflexology, which teaches original Eunice Ingham method.  This time I sat and passed the final exam so now I am officially an ART Qualified Clinical Reflexologist! 

What really stuck with me from last week was my own body’s reaction to reflexology. The day before the course I had come down with a stinking cold so bad that I almost cancelled.  But after having the sinus reflexes in my feet worked on for just 10 minutes, my problem cleared up almost immediately.  This surprised even me, as I usually advise against having reflexology when clients are sick. 

Reflexology is a wonderful therapy to stimulate the body’s default mode of balance and heal itself.  

It is thought to be  particularly effective for hormone imbalances including; adrenal issues, stress, burnout, painful periods, fertility, premenstrual tension, pregnancy and preparing for pregnancy, helping to rebalance hormones, and coping with the effects of menopause. 

To celebrate my new ‘status’, and to encourage everyone to make some time to help to heal themselves, I have a special introductory offer for February and March of Eur40 for the first reflexology session or Eur120 for the initial 3 sessions.

Workshop Change your Life Saturday 29th October 2016

On Saturday 29th October I will be hosting a workshop in Utrecht Oost exploring how to bring  change to your life.  Autumn is a wonderful time to stop and assess where you are in your life and where it is you really want to be.

The price is Eur45 and includes a vegetarian, organic lunch. Places are limited.

We will expand and put into practice some of the techniques discussed in my blog, the power of meditation, techniques to figure out what your strengths and natural abilities are and tricks to get those dreams to be a reality.

The change in your life is limited only by you.

The course is suitable for everyone from those who want to change but don’t know where to start to those who know what to do but don’t make the time to do it.

The workshop will run in Utrecht, near to Wilhelmina park, from 10am to 3pm.

The course will held in English, it is a small group and will be fun as well as informative!

Please email me if you would like to reserve a space derval@broadwater-healing.com

 

Mind Maps – to understand what and where to change

Mind maps can be a useful tool to help you to understand what it is you really feel, what it is you really want.  A mind map can develop on those wants and help you to explore which aspects of your life you can tweak to help you achieve what it is you really want and how you might get to where it is you want to be (refer to these as  intentions).

Using a mind map rather than a linear list helps to engage with both side of your brain, the creative and analytical and can help to overcome inhibitions and conditioning while using your creative side to bit by bit find a solution that resonates with you.  After all who knows better what is right for you than yourself?

Meditating before engaging in the mind map exercise, helps to ensure that you are listening to your true/authentic self and not what society, or for example your family, expects of you.

An example of a mind map could start with a circle in the middle of the page representing ‘me’. From there individual branches representing each part of your life (examples include career, home, relationship, friendships, health) that can contribute to understanding better where you are now and now that branch of your life might help to contribute to a new direction.  As the ideas flow from one another the mind map expands.  Further branches highlighting smaller steps we want to take to achieve that intention.  Often there can be an overlap between branches.

Mind maps can help to explore what it is that is that really important to you as an individual and to break it into smaller, achievable steps which may well be connected to each other so that we can start to put them into action.

Breaking our actions into smaller actions can help make things feel achievable, unless you feel that a change is achievable then your chances of succeeding are diminished or removed completely.

It helps to mix things up a little by using a strengths and weakness matrix.  A classic one that is used all the time in business and not enough when we examine ourselves.  Often we are quick to focus on our weaknesses but we overlook or strengths, we are quick to see the external threats but not anticipate the external opportunities.  it is a good exercise to help figure out what it is you are naturally good at, what it is you enjoy while considering what is happening in the real world too.

By alternating between mind maps and strengths/opportunities matrix we can build a more effective model, with the triggers of one feeding into another it can really contribute towards a powerful to do list.

From there we move on to setting out our intentions in writing.

Autumn: a time to reassess your life

Fall NY 2001Autumn is a wonderful time to reassess your life and possibly change direction.

I love the change of seasons and the start of autumn is possibly my favourite. Of course, if you ask me in spring, I might say that is my favourite too!

Spring and summer are seasons of growth and relative abundance, Autumn follows and is a time when things start to slow down before Winter.  Shorter, cooler days mixed with warm sunny days help with the transition, it is a time that we naturally start to turn inwards in anticipation of winter.

Winter is often portrayed as a time of death but it is the season when nature rests, before exploding back into life in Spring.  Autumn is a natural time for us to reflect on where we are and to assess what it is we really want from this life. It is a powerful time to implement small changes, to shed a few “leaves” or old habits that no longer serve us before exploding in a new direction.

It is a time to review what it is we really want from our life and to set about getting there.

As the evenings get darker and the weather turns there is a natural shift in consciousness.  Some of us can start to feel blue during this time and there might not be an obvious reason why.What if we are so disconnected from the natural rhythm of seasons, from ourselves that we are unaware of what is driving these feelings?  What if we  unconsciously we reflecting on the progress of our lives? What if that feeling is telling us that what we are living is not what we want? That our direction needs to change?

When your life is going in the direction that you want it to, everything seems to go smoother, easier.  Yes you might need to work but because there is a direction and a passion, it is so much easier to work hard!

There are many techniques that we can use to evaluate the direction of our lives and set out a plan of action, some of the best techniques include:

Meditation – connect with your true and authentic self

We are all born with an inner wisdom; an intuition of what the right course of action is for our unique person and our unique circumstances.  When we make a good decision, one that comes from our authentic self, it tends to ‘fit’, to feel good and it tends to work out almost effortlessly.

Life can often condition us to act or behave in a way that is not true to us – the ego is often described as that part of our personality that evolved in childhood, it was needed so that we could survive childhood and it is an important part of any childhood development, however those childhood traits may not serve us as adults.

The ego is the part of us where conditioning happens (and other unhealthy habits – but that is a whole other blog).  Meditation helps us to rise above the ego in a healthy and sustainable way.

You might, for example, have trained as an accountant because it was sensible or logical thing to do but what your really wanted to do, what our personality is better suited to, what would make us happy is something else entirely – a professional musician, work with children, own a restaurant perhaps.

An advantage of doing something that your love for a living is that it never quite feels like work!

Meditation has many benefits and one of them is it helps us to tune out the “noise from our ego” and to engage with our authentic selves.  Someone once explained to me that there are 2 ways of getting around the ego, one is to go below it and that usually involves a glass or two of wine, the other is to rise above it and that happens when we meditate.  Meditation is the only sustainable, healthy way to engage with our authentic self, to help to figure out what the right course of action is for us.

There are many ways to meditate and the trick is to find the one that works for you, getting out to nature is a great start, being quiet in nature is even better.  Guided visualisations can work for well when you start to practice meditation, while some find that reciting mantras (or the rosary) while meditating distracts the ego so that the mind can meditate in peace without constant interruption.  I practice Pure Meditation myself.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of meditation you practice but it helps to meditate regularly, every day,

Deepak Chopra suggests meditating every morning and evening for at least 30 minutes.  That can seem a lot when you are starting out.  Truth be told it is a great habit to add to your routine, even 10 minutes is a great start and taking the time to meditate in the morning can really make a difference to the rest of your day.

Release Control and Bring It On…

Release your need to control the outcome
Bring It On!!!

Releasing your need control of the outcome means just that – letting go – let yourself throw your hands in the air and say “Bring It On!!!”

Esther Hicks refers to this as ‘allowing’ and Deepack Chopra in his wonderful book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success refers to it as “relinquishing control of the outcome”.

It is often the most difficult part.  It means trusting the process to get you to where you need to be.

The visualisation blog discussed England rugby kicker Owen Farrell.  In this youtube video he is asked what is going through his mind just before he takes a kick?  His answer is “not too much”.  He clears his mind and visualises that strange shaped ball getting between those posts. He is not wasting time worrying about what might happen if he doesn’t get it through the posts. (Which of course would also risk visualising that ball missing the target, but that starts to get more complicated).  He is letting go.

A good example to illustrate this is if one of your dreams included meeting your life partner. It is very easy to get caught up in a loop where you wonder if this is the one or maybe not quite your type because you really want to get settled before you are X years old, that has always been the plan – none of this really helps does it?

One of the best ways to detach from the outcome of a situation is to think of something else. In this example – looking for a life partner – the best something else is to focus on having some fun.  Forget about the right one, wrong one, whether they snore, or whether it will happen before you hit a milestone birthday (!).  For now you focus on having fun, that is not a bad worse case scenario and has the added benefit of showing off your fun – possibly your best – side too.

Visions and vision boards

MorganBay1Your subconscious works using the language of images not words.

Before any professional sports person makes an important shot they will pause and take time to visualise that shot going exactly how they want it to go.  This is never more apparent than  in the game of rugby, just before the kicker takes a shot at goal,  they can be observed looking to the top left hand side of their field of vision, this corresponds to engaging with the visualising part of their brain.  This is quite apparent in rugby – take a look at this Youtube video of Owen Farrell taking a kick for England.

There is only one reason that professional athletes do this and that is because it is proven to make a difference to the outcome, quite simply it just WORKS!

Vision boards are a wonderful tool to put an image to what it is you want for you and translating this into a vision for the subconscious.  Pictures need to resonate with you personally, there is no point in assembling a load of images that don’t pull at you or invoke a reaction.  You want to get those pictures that bring an emotion and pushes you into action.

If for example you really want to lose weight, you could visualise a pair of size 10 jeans that you haven’t been able to fit into for years, as you look at that picture of those size 10 jeans try to feel yourself actually in those jeans, feel the fun that it is when those jeans slip right back on and smile every single time you think of it.

Your subconscious cannot tell the difference between wanting something and not wanting something.  Our rugby playing example focused on the ball going through the posts and not missing those posts.  It therefore is important to have positive images rather than negative ones on your dream board – back to the weight loss example, a visual for weight loss should focus on a positive image such as excellent health, those size 10 jeans (positive image) and not a picture of an extremely overweight unhealthy person could happen if you don’t loose weight (negative image).

Deepak Chopra suggests that we should visualise just after meditation, as the mind is uncluttered, Esther Hicks suggests we hold an image of what we aspire to for at least 17 seconds.

The power of setting out your intentions

Write out your intention, bring it on
Set out your intention in writing.

Set out your intentions. Put pen to paper and write down what it is you want to achieve.

Writing down your medium and long term intentions is a powerful method of committing to a course of action and focusing the mind.

Don’t be afraid to quantify those intentions, by the end of X time I will have achieved Y.  By the end of this month A I will have achieved B.

Positive statements are more powerful than negative ones.  Avoid stating what you will not do or achieve, rather state what you will achieve.

It can be a good idea to break the longer term goals into medium and short term ones, for example your long term goal might be to get to a size X, but your medium term goal might be to drop one dress size December 15th this year.  A daily intention could be to “exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes today”, or to “To exercise intensely for minimum 60 minutes today” or to “Finish eating before 7pm today”.

Once our intentions are set, put those intentions into a visual representation, your subconscious works in images not words.