As every pregnant woman will know, a mother-to-be must navigate her way through a stringent list of do’s and don’ts, from the foods she eats to the medicines she takes.
Of course, this advice is absolutely necessary in ensuring a safe pregnancy and delivery, but if an expectant mother experiences ailments that she would normally address with over-the-counter medicines, she might feel her options for relief are limited.
This is where reflexology can help.
The practice of applying pressure to reflexes on the feet, which in turn has an anaesthetising effect on corresponding parts of the body, has been found to have a positive impact on women during pregnancy. It can even help during labour and the post-natal stage.
When given by a qualified reflexologist, reflexology is safe at any stage of pregnancy. There are some misconceptions that reflexology in the first trimester can increase the chances of miscarriage, but the Association of Reflexologists refutes this, pointing to a lack of evidence. Some practitioners even recommend reflexology for women with a history of miscarriage.
Common problems during pregnancy that can be alleviated by reflexology include:
- Water retention
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Sleep problems
There may be more benefits in the long term, too. Recent studies found that women who had regular treatments during pregnancy experienced shorter, less painful labours than those who had not. They were also more likely to deliver on time.
This might have something to do with the fact that reflexology might help induce labour. A popular practice in China, reflexologists can help the body produce oxytocin, the hormone linked to uterine contractions. Reflexology in the final weeks of pregnancy can also heighten relaxation, which may in turn stimulate labour.
Reflexology is effective after the birth, too. As a new mother copes with lack of sleep, the demands of her new baby, and a drop in hormones, reflexology can help with a range of problems at this time, including menstrual irregularity, lactation problems and post-natal depression.
If you receive reflexology during pregnancy, be sure to tell your reflexologist that you are expecting. You should also follow the advice of your doctor throughout your pregnancy.