Maternity Reflexology is a natural therapy which supports and facilitates safe pregnancy and birthing.
It can be used prior to conception to enhance fertility and to prepare the body for pregnancy as well as throughout all the stages of pregnancy including childbirth. Reflexology treatments can also be applied during the post-natal phase and are available for newborn babies. They are safe, natural therapies that enhance the mother and baby’s wellbeing.
Reflexology involves applying pressure using specific finger and thumb techniques as well as stretching and movement, on reflex points located on the feet that represent various organs, glands and other parts of the body. By stimulating these reflex points, messages are sent to the central nervous system and from there to the different parts of the body, encouraging a natural healing process whilst relaxing and improving circulation.
Reflexology for Pre-conception
Reflexology aims to restore and maintain homeostasis, the natural equilibrium of the body. This is ideal for women who want to regulate their ovulation, balance their hormones and to prepare a healthy environment for for the body for pregnancy to occur. In fact, reflexology can also be beneficial for men, as it can encourage healthy sperm production and erectile functions. It can help each partner get in the best physical and mental state they can.
A natural approach to sub-fertility
Infertility can affect both women and men equally. Research studies attribute 30 percent of infertility cases to women, 30 percent to men, 30 percent to both partners and 10 percent of cases are due to unexplained reasons. There are many factors that inhibit a couple’s ability to conceive, medical conditions such as hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, tubal occlusion, uterine malformations, low sperm count/low quality sperm to name a few. Closely linked to infertility is also the current trend these days of delaying childbirth; after the age of 35 statistics show that a woman’s fertility decreases and chances of getting pregnant become low. Furthermore, immense stress and anxiety affect fertility and can adversely influence physical and mental health.
Reflexology employs a holistic approach to treating infertility for both men and women. Reflexology assists in reducing stress levels, normalizes menstrual cycles, regulates hormonal imbalances, relieves the symptoms of polycystic ovaries and endometriosis and aids in the production of healthy sperm and ova, therefore creating a healthy and balanced environment for gestating a new life. Reflexology is not just about working the feet; it is aimed at assisting the couple to make healthy lifestyle choices and provide them with support, especially since infertility can be both emotionally and financially exhausting.
Many couples opt to try natural therapies like reflexology first before turning to conventional treatments such as IVF. Also, women who have already been through conventional treatments of assisted conception without any success find that reflexology gives them a break they need from their discontent.
Apart from helping a couple conceive naturally, reflexology can also support couples going through IVF or any other assisted conception treatment, increasing their chances of pregnancy in the first cycle instead of going through many transfers.
Reflexology during IVF
The stress and anxiety associated with the failure to conceive can be tremendous; starting a course of IVF or any other assisted conception treatment can also be extremely stressful and a challenging time for any couple. The underlying anxiety of the treatment not working, running out of time, other couples having babies and being desperate to have your own baby are issues that arise whilst trying to conceive, especially during IVF. The hormones and drugs taken during the process are very intense for the body, the expense is immense, and the anticipation of the result can create a roller coaster of emotions.
Reflexology is a complementary therapy which can be very supportive during a course of fertility drugs or during an assisted conception treatment. Reflexology cannot harm the treatments but can help support the body physically and mentally before and throughout the fertility treatment.
A course of reflexology treatment commencing before and continuing throughout the IVF process can be very beneficial in helping reduce stress and can induce a feeling of deep relaxation. It works towards bringing the body into balance and encouraging the body’s systems to work to their optimum. It is recommended to commence reflexology sessions prior to starting IVF treatment and then continue with regular treatments throughout the process. However, it is also possible to start a course of reflexology treatments if someone has already began the IVF process and still achieve a successful outcome.
As is the case with an IVF treatment, there are no guarantees of success. However, reflexology aims to balance the body and encourage it to work more efficiently, creating thus a healthier environment for a possible pregnancy to occur.
Daily Mail: Is Reflexology the new cure for Infertility?
The Guardian: Health as I know It
The Association of Reflexologists: Reflexology Support for Fertility
Dorthe Krogsgaard: Infertility-Background and Reflexological Treatment
Reflexology in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life; it can be joyful and exciting, but can also be painful, tiring and uncomfortable, involving many fluctuating emotions such as fear, anxiety and stress.
The many physical, emotional and mental changes that take place during pregnancy coupled with dramatic hormonal changes that occur can have a negative impact on a pregnant woman. Regular reflexology can help restore balance and prepare the body to adapt to these changes, it can help a woman view pregnancy in a positive way, reinforcing her self-confidence and encouraging a sense of wellbeing. It can also help create a nurturing and relaxing environment for both mother and child after the birth.
Expectant mothers often experience nausea, fluid retention in hands or feet, fatigue, constipation and backache. As medication to treat such symptoms is often discouraged, reflexology provides a natural and safe alternative to alleviate these symptoms.
Reflexology has proven to be effective and preventative in treating the following conditions during pregnancy and labour:
- Anxiety, stress and insomnia
- Appetite changes
- Blood pressure regulation
- Constipation or any change in bowel movement pattern
- Gestational diabetes
- Muscular fatigue and tension
- Morning sickness, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting
- Urinary tract problems
- To improve flexibility of the pelvic floor
- Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)
It used to be that Maternity Reflexology treatments would only be carried out when symptoms appeared. However, through the years, it has been demonstrated that regular reflexology treatments during pregnancy have the potentiality of preventing many of the above symptoms that may occur.
Having a safe pregnancy and creating the optimal environment for a successful birth contribute to both the quality of life of an expectant mother and her ability to provide a harmonious peaceful environment in which her baby can grow. Research studies have shown that women who receive regular reflexology during pregnancy have better pregnancies, have shorter birthing with less intervention and that reflexology can assist towards a natural delivery.
Increasingly, worldwide and in Cyprus, health care providers acknowledge the benefits that reflexology can offer their patients during pregnancy and refer them for reflexology treatments in order to improve their wellbeing and quality of life during their pregnancies.
It is important to consult your health care provider before receiving reflexology treatments during pregnancy and inform your reflexologist of any specific conditions you may have.
References and further reading
Maternity Reflexology with Mauricio Kruchik
Dr. Gowri Motha: The Gentle Birth Method
Wellbeing.com: The Benefits of Maternity Reflexology
Reflexology Support for Pregnancy