Reflexology During Pregnancy

You are miraculous

Why Reflexology during pregnancy?

Reflexology is a safe, non-invasive holistic therapy designed to send the body into a state of blissful relaxation by releasing tension and stress. When you are stressed or tense, the body doesn't function optimally. It's difficult to relax and you can feel out of control. Sensitivity to pain increases and you may experience anxiety or develop stress-related conditions. There is much evidence to prove that fear and anxiety can be passed from mother to baby, which can influence their long-term physical and mental health.

Pregnant Woman in Nature

Regular reflexology during pregnancy can help you to create a calm and peaceful environment for you and your baby and increase the chances of a positive birth, by deeply relaxing the body and mind. There are some contraindications to reflexology during pregnancy which I have listed below:

Contraindications to Pregnancy Reflexology

The following conditions are contraindicated for pregnancy reflexology:

Pre-eclampsia, pre-term labour, DVT (deep vein thrombosis), placenta praevia (grades II, III or IV and 32 weeks or more), placental abruption, polyhydramnios, oligohydramnios, vaginal bleeding. 

What happens during a reflexology treatment?

During the treatment I will search for areas in the feet that feel tense or blocked and release them. As the blockages are released, the body will be able to heal more effectively. With regular treatments you will more easily be able to connect to your divine feminine power, your inner knowing that lies within us all; that our bodies are designed to give birth to life! This is an extraordinary power and its within all birthing women.

 

A positive birth should be experienced by every woman, yet sadly many are experiencing the opposite, further taking away power from women and potentially opening up a doorway to post-natal depression. Not the start you want as you begin your journey into motherhood.  The precious wisdom of physiological birth was hidden across generations and cultures for centuries, but a reclamation has begun! There are many, many women out there with positive birth stories (see my resources section) for all types of births and I encourage you to read as many as you can. I recommend the Birthing Better birth preparation courses alongside regular reflexology. They have courses to help you prepare for every type of birth and you can spend as much time as you are able to, practising the techniques at home at a time to suit you and your birthing partner. 

Birth is unpredictable, you can never know what the outcome will be, but the chances of a positive birth can be greatly enhanced when you do the work of unpacking his-story and the fear-based narrative of birth and you start to believe in yourself and the innate birthing wisdom inside of you. I will always advocate for physiological birth as I believe the benefits for mother and baby far outweigh the alternative.

 

"Giving birth physiologically is an intense and transformative psychological experience that generates a sense of empowerment. The benefits of this process can be maximised through physical, emotional and social support for women, enhancing their belief in their ability to birth and not disturbing physiology unless it is necessary.” Olza et al 2018.

Having said that, we are extremely lucky that the alternative is an option as it has saved so many lives and I can speak from experience here; my second daughter was born via cesarean due to placenta praevia grade IV. Having a cesarean birth doesn't need to change the outcome of a positive experience but it can negatively affect some women.

 

A study titled "Factors related to a negative birth experience" showed that women "were unprepared for complications and inadequate care during birth. The feeling of not being seen or heard during childbirth contributed to a negative experience". 

Henriksen L, Grimsrud E, Schei B, Lukasse M; Bidens Study Group. Factors related to a negative birth experience - A mixed methods study. Midwifery. 2017 Aug;51:33-39. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2017.05.004. Epub 2017 May 8. PMID: 28528179.

 

Regardless of the type of birth you are planning, or end up having, when you have some sense of control over the birth of your child, you can walk away from the birth feeling empowered.

Reflexology in the first trimester (weeks 1-13)

You can choose to begin reflexology from your first trimester and continue all the way through your pregnancy. Reflexology is a safe, non-invasive therapy during pregnancy and there is no evidence to suggest that reflexology can cause a miscarriage. However, because a miscarriage is statistically more likely in the first trimester, some women choose to wait until they have moved into the second trimester before they begin complementary therapy. This is entirely your choice. 

The first trimester is a time when some women experience nausea and tiredness at varying levels. Some women appear to sail through whereas other woman can experience extreme symptoms. I would recommend weekly treatments if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms, otherwise every 4 weeks is great to ensure to stress levels remain low throughout your pregnancy.

birth mantra nova purple.png

Reflexology in the second trimester (& up to 37 WEEKS)

Reflexology in the second trimester aims to support your general wellbeing, lower stress levels and improve sleep. If you have any pregnancy-related oedema, I can use lymphatic drainage movements to help to ease this, as long as there is no pathological cause (pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure).  

Preparation for labour and birth (from weeks 37+)

Reflexology from 37 weeks can be focused on priming the body for birth and may help you to have a shorter and easier labour (see research below). Reflexology cannot induce labour, as this is a medical procedure but it relaxes the body and mind and releases tension and stress which is what is needed for you to feel safe and ready to birth your baby. 

From this stage, you can have weekly or biweekly treatments. 

What the Research says

Two recent studies have shown that regular reflexology during pregnancy significantly reduced pain during labour (1), reduced the length of the first stage of labour (1) and improved quality of sleep for postnatal women (2). There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence from women who feel they have benefited from reflexology their pregnancy.

Image by Eilis Garvey

Post-Natal Reflexology / The Fourth Trimester 

Congratulations! The first month is so precious; also known as the Golden Month, this is the time when you need to be held, supported, loved, adored! You have just given BIRTH TO LIFE! There are some cultures across the world that recognise the importance of holding the mother as they understand the impact it has on her children, family and community. It is SO important to prioritise YOUR needs and nurture yourself as you care for your new baby/ies. Sleep deprivation and depression are not fun but they can be avoided if you take the time to look after YOU and invest in your emotional and physical recovery.

Postnatal Reflexology is a holistic therapy which naturally supports you as you adjust to further changes in body, mind and spirit and return to a non-pregnant state.

The first six weeks after birth are time for you and your body to recover from the birth, but there is such an emphasis on this six-week mark that women are expected to bounce back and get on with their new life as a parent. Its simply not like this! The postpartum period may go on for some mothers for much longer. Worldwide, a common theme among mothers is one of stress, depletion and isolation. We need to pull together in our communities, support each other and not be afraid to ask for help, offer help or accept help, from day 1. This is the time to call in all favours. Ask friends and family to help cook meals and help with the school run. Do not be too proud to do this or except any help that is offered to you.

mother and baby Image by Kelly Sikkema

When should I have a session?

The first or third days after birthing are the best time for your first session postnatally. I provide home visits so you do not need to leave the house.

Your first session will include plenty of relaxation to help you readjust and rebalance. Various techniques will be used to encourage the body to return to a non-pregnant state and empower you as you embark on your new journey as mother.

Babies are of course welcome if you would like to come into clinic, however I would recommend a home visit during the first 2 weeks at least.