Are you feeling tired, uncomfortable, or nauseous in your pregnancy? You may be surprised to know that an ancient form of healing called reflexology can actually help treat many common pregnancy ailments and even help you during your labour.
Is reflexology in pregnancy safe?
Obviously when you are pregnant you want to make sure that everything you do is safe for both you and your baby. Midwife Hannah Hulme Hunter says, “Reflexology is generally considered safe in pregnancy, provided all is well with your pregnancy and your reflexologist knows that you’re pregnant.” However, some reflexologists will not treat a pregnant woman during the first trimester. The Association of Reflexologists (AOR) says that this is due to a misplaced patient fear that reflexology may cause a miscarriage.
“There is no evidence to even suggest that this may be the case,” the AOR says. “However, as miscarriages are more common in the first term of pregnancy, some reflexologists are not prepared to take the risk that the client may blame them should a miscarriage occur.”
In their book, A Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology, authors Kevin and Barbara Kunz say, “A miscarriage is a reaction of the body, NOT a reaction to reflexology. Under no circumstances has reflexology ever been shown to have caused the body to do something it didn’t want to do.” Hannah’s advice to expectant mothers would be to contact a qualified reflexologist who specialises in pregnancy for further information.
When should it be avoided?
Although there are very few contraindications to reflexology, it should be undertaken by a qualified practitioner, preferably with experience in all stages of pregnancy.
Kevin Kunz recommends, “Reflexology is like exercise. It should be done gradually and within your comfort range.” However, there are some conditions where reflexology in pregnancy should be avoided altogether and these include:
- Pre-term labour – at any time before 37 weeks gestation
- Placenta previa – if Grade II or III after 32 weeks gestation
- Hydroamnios – if there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby
- after 32 weeks gestation
Suzanne Ezner, a midwife and reflexologist, also advises women with some conditions to seek medical advice before having reflexology. These include:
- Women with a risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Women with a risk of pre-eclampsia
She also suggests that in cases where the mother-to be is diabetic she should be asked to check her blood sugar before and after treatments, as reflexology helps to balance the endocrine system and insulin production.
How can it help?
The Association of Reflexologists says, “Nearly everyone can benefit from having reflexology during pregnancy.”
Baby world moderator and complementary therapist Lynne Morgan says, “It is very successful in the treatment of a wide variety of pregnancy discomforts and conditions. During labour itself, it can be used for relaxation and pain relief and research has shown that women who have regular reflexology treatments during pregnancy have far shorter labours than those who don’t.” Practitioner Valerie Lowe recommends that both expectant parents have reflexology during pregnancy to help couples during the emotional changes of pregnancy and birth. Other benefits include:
- Relief from common pregnancy ailments such as morning sickness, back
- ache, fluid retention and swelling
- Adjusting to the demands of coping with a new baby
- Support as your menstrual cycle returns to normal
As well as this, much research has shown that reflexology is excellent for maintaining or increasing milk supply as well as helping with postnatal depression and general relaxation.