Maternity Reflexology - Bump, Baby and Beyond

Jan 2013 - Please note, I am unable to take any new clients at the moment, until further notice. 

Maternity Reflexology is a specialised area, offering pre-conception, antenatal and postnatal care for mothers and their babies. Reflexology can be a wonderful, natural way to nurture and support the mother and developing baby through this special time. It is a privilege for me to work with families during this time.

Pre-Conception

As a natural, non-invasive therapy that deals holistically with parents-to-be, reflexology is ideal for preconceptual care. It is suitable for both prospective parents to help bring them into balance and optimum health prior to conception, in conjunction with good nutrition and other recommendations. There are specific treatments that can be carried out with women to balance the endocrine (hormonal) system. Although reflexology cannot claim to "cure" infertility or guarantee results, there are many examples of couples with undiagnosed infertility/sub-fertility who believe that reflexology helped them to conceive.

Reflexology during pregnancy

Although reflexology is a very safe therapy, most reflexologists will not treat a client during the first trimester of pregnancy if there is a history of miscarriage.  Only very gentle, massaging treatments would be given during this time. 

From 14 weeks’ gestation, reflexology can be a wonderful way to nurture and support the mother and developing baby through this special time.  Specific benefits may include:

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Alleviation of digestive issues
  • Alleviation of pregnancy aches and pains
  • Relief for aching feet and swollen ankles

The treatment time itself promotes relaxation and allows the mother to “be in the moment”, developing a bond with her unborn child. 

I first experienced reflexology when pregnant with my first child, and as well as feeling wonderfully relaxing yet energising, it proved to be a life-changing experience. With the intuition of the pregnant mother, I felt compelled to study Reflexology, despite never having done anything like it before. 

Alongside being generally healthy and active, and attending some fantastic antenatal yoga classes, I believe that the reflexology treatments I had during both my pregnancies helped me to have amazing natural water births with both my babies.  The foetus seems to notice too – for me and other pregnant ladies I’ve treated, the baby kicks madly when treatment starts, and when the “uterus” area is gently massaged, and then relaxes into sleep!

Reflexology is a key element of the Gentle Birth Method (“Jeyarani Way”) program devised by the well-respected “birth guru”, obstetrician and complementary therapist Dr Gowri Motha.  She has helped Elle Macpherson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss and many other mothers during their pregnancies.  See www.gentlebirthmethod.com for more information.  

Can Reflexology bring on labour?

There are many anecdotal stories about reflexology “bringing on labour”, and indeed maternity reflexologists are trained in techniques which are reputed to speed things along.  A specialised reflexology treatment when  client is due or overdue can be very powerful.

My personal view is that it is far more likely to have an impact on your birthing experience if you build up a relationship with your practitioner for at least a few weeks beforehand, and gain the benefit of the therapy during the latter stages of your pregnancy. If the reflexologist already knows you (and your feet!), they will have a better ability to sense when baby's arrival might be imminent.

Remember that you will only go into labour when you and the baby are ready.  A reflexologist will treat you holistically (i.e. looking at your whole person), and may through talking to you discover and help you work through blockages to labour starting - for example, fear, busy-ness (still working, taking on too much) or subconsciously wanting to “hold on” to the pregnancy.  Having had experience of going overdue myself and narrowly avoiding induction, I have lots of advice on natural ways to help the process along to complement the reflexology.

 

Reflexology during labour for pain relief
Researchers in China, Denmark and the UK have found reflexology to be beneficial to women throughout the child-bearing experience.  Regular sessions during pregnancy may lead to shorter labours and less analgesia.

Many midwives are now being trained in reflexology techniques, and most private and some NHS maternity units have reflexologists on hand.

A good reflexologist can give you some self-treatment techniques using hand reflexology, to maintain calm and deal with minor contractions during the early stages of labour - obviously trying to self-treat your feet at this time is difficult if not impossible!!  I can also teach your birth partner some simple techniques to help you on the big day/night! 

Nurture for new mums

Your body and mind have gone through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention your life with a newborn baby. Reflexology may help restore strength and balance, and relieve stress and anxiety. Reflexology can also help with relaxing you for breastfeeding. 

Post-natal treatments provide nurture time for mum, and I offer home visits with your baby present. In my experience, babies find it very relaxing if they are cuddled or fed by a mum who is having a reflexology treatment.

The unique Mamma Me-Time Post-natal service will allow you some additional time after the treatment as well, whilst in my capacity as a post-natal doula, I can offer  help with breastfeeding, domestic chores, baby care or sibling care, or simply a cup of tea and a calm, listening ear. 

Reflexology and Children
Children are usually very receptive to reflexology, though treatments must be kept short, gentle and engaging (try “This little piggy”).

Whilst I was training as a reflexologist, my first baby was born.  He was a happy, healthy baby, but of course suffered from all the usual issues – digestive problems, teething pains, a little eczema following vaccinations, sleeping problems (or rather, not sleeping).  I used him as a case study and found that many of these issues improved.  Now if my children have any niggles, I always use a little reflexology and it seems to do the trick. 

Simple techniques for treating babies can be taught to expectant and new mothers.

 

Some words of caution

• Do not use reflexology as a substitute for medical antenatal care. 
• Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be more common during pregnancy, and is a contra-indication to reflexology.
• If you suspect that there are any problems with your pregnancy or health, please consult your doctor or midwife. 
• For optimum safety, make sure your practitioner has undertaken an advanced course in maternity reflexology.