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The stress of trying to start a family

Last time I wrote, I wrote a post about the benefits of reflexology in pregnancy. That's all very well, but what if you can't get pregnant?

The average age for a first pregnancy has gradually risen over the last decade or so and it's now over 30 in New Zealand. Thirty really isn't old at all for a first baby, but that means there are a lot of women well over 30 trying for a family for a first time, and for some of them it might not be so easy. There are so many reasons why women are leaving it later to start their families, but careers, travel, the cost of children, the cost of housing, and finding the right person to have children with are just a few of the factors.

Maybe you're still young, but have a condition like endometriosis that means it's more difficult for you to get pregnant. Or maybe you've already had a child or two with a first partner, but are now wanting a baby later in life with your current partner, and it isn't happening.

Why is it harder to get pregnant as you get older?

Women are born with all the eggs they'll ever produce. This means as we age, so do our eggs, and so the quality of those eggs diminishes. We also lose eggs as we ovulate each month, so the number of eggs we have goes down as we age too. At age 30 the chance of getting pregnant each month is about 20%. By age 40 it's about 5%. That's a real blow if you're trying to conceive and it's taking longer than you hoped. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't get pregnant as you get older, and many many women do (last year the oldest person to give birth in New Zealand was 53). But it does mean that the biological clock really does tick and the pressure can start to add up. It can also become a very lonely journey for women of any age trying to conceive as friends and family have babies and everyone keeps asking you, 'When are you going to have children?'

How can reflexology help?

Well, unfortunately reflexology is not a magic baby-making tool! But, there are lots of causes of subfertility, and this is where reflexology can be helpful. Subfertility is different from infertility, where a couple cannot have children. Subfertility means that the couple can have children - they just have a lower chance than average. Subfertility may be due to age and older and fewer eggs, or less than optimum hormone levels, or maybe a condition like endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. Whatever the cause, seeing that period come and go every month and time ticking away can cause extra stress.

A little stress is good for us, but constant stress, worry and tension causes high cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal glands). And high cortisol levels interfere with the levels of the hormones needed to get pregnant. Some studies have suggested that stress contributes to 30% of all subfertility. (And we've all heard stories about couples who tried for a baby for years, gave up trying, went on a relaxing holiday, and got pregnant...)

Reflexology can help relieve that stress. It's that simple. If the stress of trying to get pregnant is stopping you getting pregnant, regular reflexology may help. And I mean regular - not once a month or when you remember, but every week or fortnight. There's no point feeling all beautifully relaxed but then leaving it so long between appointments that you are climbing the walls by the next treatment! And for reflexology to work effectively you also need to stop your busy-ness to relax properly - I've seen clients who are so busy they struggle to fit in a reflexology treatment. How on earth will they fit in a baby? It's no wonder they aren't getting pregnant...


"Nicki is like a fertility reflexologist & a counsellor rolled into one. She is highly professional & a great support throughout the 17 months it took me to conceive. I'm now heavily pregnant & overjoyed. I'll always be grateful for Nicki's help." Carley L


Of course, there is more to it really. Reflexology is a holistic treatment, meaning that as I work the points on the feet I am balancing the whole body. So as well as relieving stress I am trying to balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and work on anything else that may be getting in the way.

Reflexology works alongside IVF and other assisted conception too. They are stressful as well, so if you want to chat about timing reflexology sessions to help with any treatments you're going through, let me know.

I've seen reflexology work for subfertility. If you're wanting to give it a try and committed to it, I'd love to help you.

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