Natural childbirth remedies: reflexology

Ok, not so much a remedy as an aid or induction technique, perhaps?

I am a firm believer in the benefits of many alternative therapies* – whether the effects are physical, psychological – or both. In fact, I’m a qualified massage therapist, don’t you know, so I’m probably a little biased. But I think it’d be hard to deny that touch has a wonderfully soothing, immediately positive effect on a huge range of ailments.

I’ve long heard reflexology mentioned as beneficial while pregnant – to tackle any hormonal imbalances, as a relaxing therapy and also to treat the dreaded third trimester pregnancy cankles/swollen feet.

In short, reflexology is built on the belief that different areas of the feet correspond to certain areas and systems in the body. Many reflexology points correspond with those taught in Chinese acupuncture and my therapy, Thai yoga massage, which is very interesting to a geek like me.

I’ve been lucky enough not to have suffered from swollen feet and I’ve had a couple of pregnancy massages over the past eight or so months, so time and money hasn’t allowed for any reflexology. However, at the end of my second pregnancy massage a few weeks ago, my therapist did five minutes of reflexology at the end to the treatment. A blissful, deeply peaceful five minutes where I nearly fell asleep. This led me to booking on an additional half hour of reflexology on my ‘congrats for reaching full term’ massage last week, to focus on getting this baby out now that I’ve passed my due date.

I find it really hard to switch off during ‘enforced’ relaxation time: during many years of attempted yoga relaxation wind downs. I often just compile mental to do lists as that’s way more soothing than getting agitated at being unable to join in with the guided visualisations. But for some reason, light repetitive pressure applied to my feet practically sends me to sleep.

Aside from the relaxation aspect, reflexology can apparently be used to induce labour, by stimulating specific pressure points linked to the endocrine system, thus releasing the hormones needed to get labour going. In spite of the very gentle pressure used, my feet also felt light and free of tension after the treatment.

I haven’t benefited from the induction benefits yet, but if I had the time, I’d definitely book myself in for a follow up treatment just for the blissful half hour of relaxation and would highly recommend as a pregnancy treat if you’re considering it. A series of treatments during the last month or two of pregnancy would probably be more effective than my random approach.

If you’re Warwickshire-based, I’d highly recommend Lisa Moore at the Leamington Therapy Centre (she also does a fantastic pregnancy massage, which I may blog about separately!) If you can’t get to a therapist, you could enlist a willing partner or friend to do a DIY treatment.

Have you had any success with reflexology to encourage labour – or any other alternative therapies?

*Not reiki, which just seems a little too hocus pocus for me – also – no massage involved; what’s that all about?

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