I guess I should really start by describing what reflexology actually is. Because I have been a trained Reflexologist for a while now, I forget not everyone knows about this amazing ancient therapy.
Reflexology is based on the principle that parts of the foot (reflexes) are connected, by nerves, to other organs and systems within the body. By stimulating these reflexes, calming signals are sent through the nervous system to its corresponding part, as well as the brain, in order to ease tension and reduce stress. It is also believed that this process can prevent various health issues and support emotional well-being. It works by restoring balance to the body and therefore, encourages natural healing.
So what is Pregnancy Reflexology or Maternity Reflexology?
Pregnancy or Maternity Reflexology is aimed at women during their pregnancy, labour and postnatal period. It has many benefits; such as easing pregnancy anxiety, improving your mood, supporting your general well-being and aiding sleep. Reflexology releases tension and allows you some time to completely relax, which can be difficult when carrying around a little human, as well as working, looking after any other children you may have, maintaining a home, plus many other responsibilities. It has also been known to ease morning sickness, pregnancy heartburn, constipation and pelvic girdle pain. Although research for this is limited.
What happens during a treatment?
Every Reflexologist works in their own way, but at RED Reflexology, for your initial appointment, I complete a thorough medical consultation to ensure there is no medical reason why you can't receive a treatment. It also enables me to outline a treatment plan catered around your individual needs. At the start of every appointment, we always have a chance to discuss how your pregnancy is going and if there is any further support you might need. You then receive a relaxing foot soak (which feels amazing when you have swollen, tired, pregnancy feet). All the products I use are organic, natural and cruelty free. After your foot soak, you move to my treatment couch, where we ensure you are in a comfortable and safe position prior to the treatment starting. The treatment lasts about 45 minutes, however, if I detect any areas of tension when I'm working, I will work on those areas, so the treatment could last longer. Every client is different, the majority do tend to fall asleep, or at least fall into a deeply relaxed state. Some clients say they even experience dreams or see colours.
Once the treatment is over, you will always be offered a glass of water, and it's very important to keep hydrated after reflexology. I always give my maternity clients more time to come around after a treatment, and it's normally at this point that I will feedback to her what I found during the treatment.
Is Maternity Reflexology safe?
Absolutely! I received reflexology during my last pregnancy and I would personally recommend it to anyone who is pregnant, particularly if you're struggling with any pregnancy symptoms. All Reflexologists should carry out a thorough consultation with you prior to a treatment. If you're unsure, I suggest finding a Reflexologist who is specially trained in maternity reflexology and is also a member of an accredited organisation such as the Association of Reflexologists. I'm proud to say that I am both!
A lot of people question if reflexology is safe during the first trimester and a lot of reflexologists won't treat a pregnant client during this time. However, if you are seeing a specially trained maternity reflexologist, who knows how to treat women during their first trimester, there is no reason why she shouldn't receive a treatment. Sadly, most miscarriages happen within the first trimester, but there is no evidence to suggest reflexology can cause this to happen. Reflexology sets to relax mothers and decrease stress levels, which can only benefit her and her growing baby.
Can reflexology induce labour?
So I get asked this question a lot, and the short answer is no. However, what reflexology can do, is help prepare the body for labour. What I mean by that, is mum will only go into labour when she feels calm, relaxed and safe. This is what encourages the hormones responsible for starting labour, to be released. One of the hormones responsible for this, is Oxytocin. It is produced naturally in the body, but there are ways we can encourage it's release:
- Yoga or other gentle exercises
- Listening to relaxing music
- Massage and reflexology
- Spend time with loved ones
- Do hobbies that make you happy
- Have sex
- Cuddle/hug your friends or family or pets
Saying that, I received a reflexology treatment two days before going into labour! But my body was definitely ready and more importantly, so was my baby.
Pregnancy is such an amazing time and a precious gift, but it's so important to look after yourself during this period of your life. Reflexology is a wonderful tool to support you throughout your pregnancy, but also post-partum as well. I also offer to treat my clients at home after having a baby, as I know how difficult it can be to get out and about after having a baby. As I am also trained in baby reflexology, I can often give little one a reflexology treatment too. Reflexology really is for everyone!