Pregnancy reflexology is very beneficial to the mother and unborn baby. It is a deeply relaxing treatment and may help with well being, general anxiety, tension, aches and pains, reducing stress and stress related hormones. Minor ailments of pregnancy may respond well to reflexology therapy. Pregnancy reflexology is also used by many women to help re balance the body in preparation for labour.
A research project undertaken by Dr Gowrie Motha in London discovered that the effects of pregnancy reflexology during the antinatal period on labour outcomes were outstanding, reducing the time of first stage labour, (Motha Gowrie & McGrath June 1994, The effects of reflexology on labour outcome. Association of Reflexologists 2nd edition).
The effects of too much stress
Bringing a new person into the world is not an easy task. We worry about everything, from the foods we eat, our health, our baby’s health, juggling family, work, finances and appointments. Also the mixed emotions of the prospect of giving birth can be an anxious time. When you are stressed your body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing adrenaline and cortisone hormones. While everyday pressure is part of modern day life, constant high stress levels can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. This has been linked to poorer pregnancy health, pre term labour and low birth weight. Some of the symptoms of stress include difficulty sleeping, irritability, loss of appetite, headaches, low mood, racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating. It may seem unnatural to make time for yourself a priority, especially if your used to looking after others, or working very hard. Taking care of your own wellbeing is essential to you and your baby’s health.
Being in a relaxed state can also help reduce pregnancy related muscle aches and tension. Pregnancy reflexology can help you relax, unwind, re balance and have some very important me time, returning your body into a state of harmony.
Priming for labour
A pregnancy reflexology technique called priming for labour can be used from 40 weeks onward. The treatment is focused on deep relaxation where your birth related reflexes, such as your uterus and endocrine (hormone) system reflexes are strongly stimulated, along with some acupressure points. While only your body can start labour as it is a hormone process, being totally relaxed, rebalanced and promoting oxytocin can be beneficial.
Reflexology use in labour
Reflexology use in early labour is beneficial to aid relaxation, the gentle touch also supports the stimulation of the very important hormone oxytocin which is needed for effective birthing. Oxytocin also triggers the flow of endorphin's helping with natural pain relief.
Reducing stress hormones is extremely important and effective for assisting the body with the natural birthing process. The uterus and cervix are involuntary muscles, the purpose of these is to hold something in until there is a trigger to open and release (in pregnancy this trigger is the release of hormones). When ready to open, the muscles contract, relax and expand to allow the baby to move through the birthing passage. The muscles work best in an atmosphere of privacy and calm and cannot be opened at will. They will involuntary close and tense up if the mother feels scared, tense or stressed.
Being in a stressed state can prolong labour time and the birthing process, therefore it’s important for women to be as relaxed, calm and as stress free as possible.
As part of your reflexology treatment, I can show you and your partner some simple self care techniques to use at home to help keep you relaxed.
Reflexology for postnatal care
Reflexology is very beneficial after the birth of your baby, especially when other types of complimentary therapies may feel too heavy. It can often feel overwhelming emotionally and physically when you get home, so it’s important to take some time to rest. Reflexology can help return the body to a balanced state, improving circulation and elimination helping with the healing process. It also gives you some much needed relaxation time.
Reflexology is also a wonderful treatment to use with your baby to help calm them or as part of a bedtime routine. Please see the section on reflexology for babies for more information.
For more information or to book an appointment please contact us here
Emily is accredited by FEDANT the Federation of Antenatal Educators for pregnancy reflexology, registration number 12800.