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Reflexology is a complementary therapy that may be able to help some women before, during and after pregnancy. This feature looks at the possible benefits of reflexology for pregnancy.

What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a natural complementary therapy that works on the basis that all parts of your body have key links to certain areas in your extremities, namely your feet, legs, hands, face and ears. It has existed in some form for thousands of years, with Egyptian and Chinese natural medicine confident of its benefits. Throughout the years it has developed as an expert technique and has been recognised in the Western world since the early 20th century. Most commonly, reflexologists focus on using massage and applying pressure to specific parts of your feet with an aim to promote overall well-being throughout the body. Reflexologists believe that you can positively affect organs throughout your body using touch and pressure on its corresponding part in the foot. The gentle pressure and stretching also encourages elimination of toxins and improved circulation.

What are the benefits of reflexology?

As with many other natural therapies, the benefits of reflexology centre on promoting wholeness, balance and relaxation. There can be no guaranteed results with these forms of treatment but experiences of many have found it to be extremely beneficial.

Assisting conception

In the initial days when couples first decide to try and conceive, they will sometimes find that it doesn’t happen as quickly or easily as they might have expected. Reflexology has been shown to help this process very successfully and naturally and eases the anxieties and pressures that we place on ourselves when attempting to achieve something we desperately want. Women trying to conceive report that using reflexology at this stage helps them to prepare themselves, both emotionally and physically for conception and many claim reflexology as a key to their success in getting pregnant naturally. Potential dads can benefit hugely from enjoying reflexology as part of this process too.

Easing ailments during pregnancy

During pregnancy, reflexology has been shown to be a great help at easing the nasty niggles that mums-to-be suffer. It’s believed to help balance the hormonal and emotional rollercoaster that pregnancy creates and can ease anxiety symptoms. Alongside the emotional benefits, it can also help with many of the physical effects of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, digestive problems, heartburn, anaemia and general aches and pains.

Encouraging natural labour

Reflexology is also commonly used to help bring on a natural labour in babies reluctant to enter the world. It should only work when baby is ready and not before. In mums-to-be looking to avoid medical interventions, this could be worth a try once the hospital bag is packed and ready to go.

Post-natal benefits

After the joy of the new arrival, the hormones will be all over the place again. Reflexology can also be used in the time after the birth to help with the natural healing processes of the body and mind as they recover from the stresses and strains of bringing a wonderful new life into the world. It will also promote hormonal balance and can therefore help to fight off depression. In the rare instances where your new baby agrees – reflexology can help to aid sleep as well. It has also been shown to help breastfeeding mums with improving milk production and helping the menstrual cycle return to normal in the months after birth.

Benefits for babies

New arrivals can also benefit from reflexology. Short, gentle sessions can help to soothe and settle upset tots. Softly stroking the feet helps to relax them and gentle pressure while breastfeeding can help the baby to digest effectively, reducing hiccups and tummy niggles.

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Is it safe?

Reflexology is a non-intrusive process but, as with any complementary therapy, you should always discuss it with your health professional.

Warnings:

Most therapists will not practice on mums-to-be in the first trimester of their pregnancy. As this is the time when the risk of miscarriage is highest, most natural therapists prefer to wait until the pregnancy is settled into the safer zones from the second trimester onwards. If you have had serious health issues such as a recent heart attack, blood clot or stroke, or if you have underlying health problems related to your pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, you should be very careful about considering complementary therapies and it is unlikely that your therapist will agree to treat you at this time. Make sure that you use a professional therapist. In Ireland the body to check is that National Register of Reflexologists. http://www.nationalreflexology.ie/ It is on this section of their website that you can find their members by county: http://www.nationalreflexology.ie/finding_a_reflexologist Before going for reflexology, or any other type of treatment, make sure you check with your medical team. If you are reading this in the UK; it is The Association of Reflexologists who provides a list of its members. Their registered therapists carry the letters ‘MAR’ after their names. This will show that they adhere to a code of conduct and professionalism, as well as being committed to continued learning and professional development.

DISCLAIMER

All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.