The Treatment: Ritual Reflexology is an alternative therapeutic treatment based on the idea that the body has an inner network of reflex points that connect to other organs.
Benefits: Provides deep relaxation, improves sleep, which helps that exhausted feeling, relieves stress, reduces fluid retention, relieves constipation and bloating, as well as well as reducing swollen legs and ankles and relieving muscle aches and pains.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a complementary therapy which is based on the theory that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body. Reflexologists believe that working these points or areas aids relaxation and helps improve wellbeing.
If this sounds far-fetched to you there are actually two studies from Japan using functional magnetic resonance imaging that show increased blood flow into the specific area of the brain that corresponds to the reflexology point that is being worked on the foot. So when the eye point was pressed the facial area of the brain lit up.(7, 8)
This supports the fundamental premise of reflexology that by working a specific reflex area on the feet has an effect on blood flow in the analogous area of the body.
Reflexology for supporting Maternity Journey
Reflexology in First Trimester
Reflexology can be used safely throughout pregnancy; Reflexologists will take a full history to ensure that it’s safe and appropriate to carry out a treatment.
The First trimester is a time when there are huge changes in hormone levels as well as anxieties and concerns about the changes that are going to happen. Both of these factors may leave you feeling delighted, anxious, exhilarated, weepy and exhausted – sometimes all at once. The therapist will aim to aid relaxation, de-stress and offer support.
Although there is a small risk of miscarriage in any pregnancy there is no evidence that reflexology can cause a miscarriage or increase the risk. Many women find the support reflexology offers of great benefit at this time. Do check the reflexologist has experience and training in Maternity Reflexology.
Reflexology in Second and Third trimester
In the Second and Third trimester, most of the discomforts of early pregnancy have gone.
However, as the baby grows you may begin to experience other physical symptoms. Your stress levels may also rise as the birth becomes more imminent. Reflexology can be used for general well-being or to address other health issues such as sleeping problems as they arise. Of course, the therapist will also be there to support you through any worries or concerns that you may have.
Reflexology in the Post-Natal period
This joyful time is the start of a new and exciting era in your life but it can also bring new challenges; you may be questioning if you are doing everything right, falling hormone levels can leave you feeling low, tearful or anxious. These feelings can then be exacerbated by lack of sleep.
I believe that this is another key time when reflexology can be of great benefit. A research study has shown that post-natal women had improved quality of sleep with reflexology (3) which can just make you feel better able to cope. Yet it is a time when women often wonder how they can fit it in when their baby is not yet in a fixed routine.
If the baby needs a feed you can feed the baby during the treatment, wind them on your shoulder and then lie the baby tummy to tummy (unless there is a parent, partner or friend available to take baby after the feed) and as you relax with the reflexology, the baby calms and will sleep soundly there on your tummy – I have never done a treatment with a crying baby! Once you realise reflexology is possible in your new routine and you feel the benefits of the treatment you may well be hooked!