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
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.