How reflexology (foot therapy) can help in pregnancy

Reflexology can be beneficial pre-conception as well as after the birth of your child, always with a focus towards bringing back balance and maintaining a healthy body and mind, explains Simonne Walmsley.

Pregnancy is an enormously special time. It is also a time that brings unimagined chaos to a woman's body and mind. Things start changing rapidly, most things don't work how they used to, and some things don't seem to work at all (ever experienced "baby brain"? My point exactly). Things you never thought could hurt so much do, and you may also find yourself distressed, yet oddly impressed, not only at your body's inclination to throw up everything you have ever eaten, but that it can go on for months without killing you. The possibilities are endless. The difficulty is finding a way to relieve pregnancy symptoms, as you instinctively steer away from things that aren't natural.

I must confess to being something of a sceptic when it comes to holistic therapies, but I found myself at a bit of a crossroads, wanting to assist my body to cope with some of the things that were happening to it as it nurtured the new little life growing inside it and, therefore, make the environment for that new little life as friendly as possible. So, it was with a large amount of curiosity and some determination to open my closed mind that I met with reflexologist Steph Gowan of Auckland.

Reflexology is a non-invasive, natural therapy that complements the mind, body and spirit with a view that benefit comes from treating the whole instead of individual areas, hence "holistic". It is a supportive therapy that promotes balance of body and energy and focuses on health and wellbeing. Reflexology is a powerful therapy at a subtle, energetic level and, as a result of treatment, discomfort and mild ailments are often assisted. It works predominantly with the feet (sometimes with the hands and ears) and involves applying pressure and massage, using the principal that areas of the feet equate to areas of the body. Your reflexologist will be able to "read" your feet, which will tell her what areas of the body are out of balance. They will take a medical history at your first appointment and will ensure that they understand what symptoms are concerning you before undertaking treatment, but they will not diagnose. In fact, they are not allowed to.

Reflexology can be beneficial to anyone at any stage, but my interest was in whether it could help my stressed body cope with pregnancy. I had already been through IVF, so most of what I'd had faced up to this point had been decidedly unnatural, and I felt that my body needed help. Because I am pregnant, I visited a maternity reflexologist. A maternity reflexologist is different to general reflexologist in much the same way as a medical specialist is different to your normal GP -- they are specifically trained. Maternity reflexology aims to balance the effects of hormonal changes and to work with what is going on in the pregnant body to support the mother. 

Reflexology can also be beneficial pre-conception as well as after the birth of your child, always with a focus towards bringing balance back to the body and maintaining a healthy body and mind, supporting a healthy equilibrium.

Reflexology may also be of assistance in relation to infertility complaints as often these can be exacerbated by a lack of balance in the body -- problems such as irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, even some sperm issues in men, are all indications that something (or things!), somewhere, is out of kilter. If your body is in balance, or on its way to it, then you may increase your chances of conception.

After pregnancy, reflexology can assist to regain balance at a time when hormones are surging, the adrenals are working at 100 kilometres an hour, and post-birth toxins are flowing into the body. assisting the body back into balance can also reduce the risk of other issues, such as postnatal depression.

So, what did I think? I think I wish I'd investigated relexology sooner! It would have been interesting to see if reflexology could have offered assistance prior to my IVF cycle, or what difference it may have made to my body coping with the stress it was placed under at that time, because I think it may have been significant. The day after my reflexology treatment, I felt like what I imagine being run over with a steam-roller would, but I recognised that this was the result of a flood of toxins which had been released working their way out of my system. A little TLC in the form of rest, fresh foods, and plenty of water, and I felt much better.

The sense of wellbeing afterwards was fabulous (not to mention that I haven't suffered "morning" sickness since!) and I can honestly say that I haven't looked back, other than to make sure Steph's details were in my diary so that I could make further appointments.

Want to know more?
To find a professional practitioner (and for more information in general on reflexology), the best place to look is the Reflexology New Zealand website where a list of names are provided. Reflexology New Zealand is affiliated with the New Zealand Charter of Health Professionals. Reflexology New Zealand practitioners are professionally trained, have current first aid certificates, and are required to upskill every year.

With a penchant for expensive shoes and gorgeous handbags, Simonne Walmsley was relieved to find out that her baby, due in January, is a little boy so she won't have to share her clothing allowance. Except, as it turns out, a whole new world of nappy bags has just opened up to her, and her little boy already has seven pairs of shoes.  




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