Maternity reflexology is a specialist branch of reflexology aimed at helping women throughout pregnancy, with preparation for the birth, and during the post-natal period. It is a gentle and very safe therapy that encourages balance within the body. It is completely safe to receive reflexology throughout the entire pregnancy except in a small number of specific cases (see FAQs below).
During pregnancy women go through enormous changes physically, hormonally, and emotionally. Reflexology can help by bringing about balance to the body (especially the hormones), helping to calm and soothe body and mind.
Research has shown that regular reflexology during pregnancy may lead to an easier and shorter labour with less need for intervention1. Women have reported relief from pregnancy related complaints such as morning sickness, backache, fatigue, fluid retention and difficulty sleeping. Furthermore, reflexology during pregnancy can promote general well-being.
It is generally accepted that the mother’s health and that of her baby are linked. As the mother receives reflexology, and achieves better balance in body and emotions, then it is likely that the benefits of a more relaxed, happy mother will carry through to her baby.
I have undertaken specialist training in maternity reflexology which enables me to work confidently with pregnant women from preconception through the entire pregnancy and to the post-natal period.
During this period women are likely to be feeling very emotional. There may be fatigue and pregnancy sickness. Reflexology may help to balance hormones and emotions, ease sickness and fatigue, and provide emotional support.
As the baby grows, there may be some new ailments developing at this stage. Reflexology can help with relief from digestive complaints including indigestion and constipation, plus leg cramps, headaches and more.
At this stage of pregnancy women are likely to be feeling more uncomfortable. With the expanding baby and uterus, space is becoming tighter still, and the mother’s movement and rest are affected. Imminent birth may be causing anxiety. Reflexology can help with relieving physical discomfort such as heartburn and back pain, it may encourage better sleep, and reduce anxiety that may be mounting as the due date gets closer.
It is likely that as she goes into labour, any stress felt by the mother can have a negative effect on how she experiences the birth. Because reflexology is known to bring about deep relaxation, and in turn, there is likely to less stress.
Reflexology may help the body to prepare for labour and encourage a natural delivery. I get enquiries from women who have reached their due date and would like know if reflexology will help in encouraging baby to come, before they are invited for induction. My response is that reflexology can help but only if both mother and baby are ready. However, treatment is much more likely to have an effect if the mother has already been receiving reflexology in the later stages of her pregnancy.
Giving birth to a baby is a big deal. New mothers all too often get on with looking after baby and neglecting their own needs. Yet another appointment with a newborn might seem like a non-essential commitment at this time. However, the effects of a treatment or series of treatments at this point in time can be hugely beneficial. Reflexology can help rebalance hormones, establish good breast-feeding, and can help the body begin to restore to its pre-pregnancy state. Where there has been surgery, it may help with healing. It may help with balancing emotions at this time of huge change, and it offers support to a woman and she must suddenly take on a huge new responsibility. Reflexology can help calm and ease an anxious mother and balance her hormones and energy levels. It has been shown in various studies that regular treatments following the birth can reduce the effects of post natal depression (RESEARCH).
(1) Dr Gowri Motha – The Magic of Reflexology in Pregnancy, Reflexions – The Journal of AoR, December 1994)
When is it not safe to receive reflexology during pregnancy?
Where there is severe oedema (swelling due to water retention), signs of pre-eclampsia, or deep vein thrombosis.
How does maternity reflexology differ from regular reflexology?
Maternity reflexology puts greater focus on the endocrine system (the hormones). Reflexologists with specialist training will avoid certain reflexes that might be used in a regular reflexology treatment. Relevant pregnancy complaints and aliments can be treated throughout the sessions, and attention is paid to the lymphatic system to assist with any swelling and fluid retention.
Do I need to get permission from my obstetrician/midwife?
Some women feel more comfortable informing their midwife/obstetrician, however it is not essential if the pregnancy is without complication. It is worth noting that increasingly women are receiving reflexology at the recommendation of their midwife.
Can reflexology cause a miscarriage?
Reflexology does not cause miscarriage.
Can I receive reflexology throughout my entire pregnancy?
Reflexology is safe throughout pregnancy when your reflexology is trained in maternity reflexology.
Are treatments painful?
Generally reflexology is relaxing and enjoyable. However, where there are areas in the body that are out of balance then there may be some tenderness in the corresponding reflexes in the feet. This tenderness tends to disappear as the reflex is ‘worked’.