Research into reflexology is limited and it is uncertain how it actually works, but its relaxation, pain killing and nerve blocking effects are well documented.
What is reflexology?
There are two main theories on how reflexology works: The first is that the parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the body’s ‘rest and digest’ system and stores and maintains the body’s normal functions in a state of calm) is being positively stimulated; the other is that it works along the same principles as Chinese medicine where reflexology is stimulating and rebalancing the body’s energy pathways.
Reflexologists believe that certain areas on the feet, hands and ears are connected to specific areas of the body. By ‘working over’ all of the areas on the feet, the reflexologist is gently stimulating the systems and organs of the body, which encourages the body’s natural healing and balance.
Is reflexology safe in pregnancy?
Reflexology in pregnancy can be beneficial. It is very important to find a therapist who is qualified to work with pregnant women. You should share your medical history/pregnancy complications prior to any treatment.
What are the benefits of reflexology?
Reflexology is very relaxing and can help with stress related symptoms. Most women sleep well following a treatment and many report a sense of wellbeing. Although relaxing many women report feeling energised. Other benefits include help with headaches, constipation, backache and symphasis pubis pain. Reflexology is known to be accumulative and has shown to help prevent postnatal depression.
For inducing labour
Applying pressure to certain points on the feet can stimulate contractions and may therefore be an option to avoid induction if you go over your due date. However, please make sure that the therapist you see is trained and insured to use reflexology specifically for this purpose.
Many mums-to-be get fed up at the end of pregnancy, but it is important to remember that childbirth is a normal physiological event and that any intervention, even natural techniques like reflexology, may be inappropriate. Please consult with your midwife if you have any concerns.
The relaxing effects of reflexology can provide you with some quality time-out and promote a sense of wellbeing. Reflexology has been shown to help with pain and certain breast feeding problems.
Advice following a reflexology treatment
Reflexology is stimulating as well as relaxing and can have effects on the mind and body. Due to the stimulating effects of reflexology you may experience certain symptoms, which may include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Increased thirst
- Increased visits to the toilet
- Slight headache or nausea
- Heightened emotions.
Your reflexologist should provide you with verbal and written after care advice.