Early on in my reflexology career, one of my colleagues persuaded me to go on a maternity and fertility reflexology course with her. It was something I was thinking of doing at some point, but I'm so glad I did it as soon as I could. Seeing mums-to-be throughout their pregnancy is now a favourite thing of mine!
So why have regular reflexology treatments through pregnancy?
Relax and relieve those nerves
The one thing everyone agrees on when it comes to reflexology is that it's relaxing. And relaxation is something you need when you're pregnant.
As well as your normal day-to-day life, you've now got an extra person to grow. You may feel tired, anxious and stressed. You may be nervous or worried about the pregnancy, the upcoming birth, or the changes you're going to have in your lifestyle. Relaxation is going to help, and learning to relax is going to help during birth too. (If you want to learn more about this, pop over to my sister site, Bay Hypnobirthing.)
Pregnancy isn't always marvellous
Some women sail through pregnancy, but most get a few niggles as the baby grows and takes up space, and as hormones help to prepare your body for birth. Back ache, sciatica, pelvic pain, swollen ankles, indigestion, constipation, and nausea are all common.
Reflexology can help support you throughout pregnancy. You're not ill - you're pregnant - and a bit of support to help relieve these symptoms will make you feel more like yourself and give you that pregnant 'bloom' you were hoping for.
I do get women coming to me for induction, trying to avoid an induction with artificial hormones. I firmly believe that a baby will be born when he or she and the mum are both ready, and that if you're not ready, no amount of reflexology, acupuncture, spicy curries or anything else other than a chemical induction will get things going.
However, if you're nervous about birth, the one thing you may need to do to get things going is to relax. If the baby is ready, then reflexology can help you relax and the baby will come naturally. It works best if you're used to reflexology though. I have most success with mums to come to me regularly from at least 35 weeks, not mums who turn up at 41+ weeks all anxious and worried because they're going to induced the next day!
An easier birth?
Studies have shown that reflexology significantly reduces pain during birth*, reduces the length of labour* and improves sleep quality once the baby has been born**. A relaxed mum is also more likely to trust her body to birth naturally, making it easier for her and the baby. (Again, I've learnt a lot about this through my Hypnobirthing studies and teach all about this in those classes.)
Also, an easier birth with a relaxed mum makes birth less stressful for the baby too, and hopefully that means your baby will sleep and feed better too. What new mum doesn't want that?!
Give it a try...
So, having said all that, why doesn't everyone have reflexology during pregnancy? Well, a lot of mums-to-be don't know about it or just haven't considered it. So, if you know someone who is pregnant, point them in the direction of this article. They might have their nutrition sorted, be taking a good supplement, exercising and doing their pelvic floor exercises, but be stressed and worried about birth. Some regular reflexology sessions could possibly make all the difference.
And if you're reading this because you're pregnant - book a reflexology appointment now!
*Valiani M et al. (2010) Reviewing the effect of Reflexology on pain and outcomes of the labour of primiparous women. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research.
**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.