Reflexology or Zone Therapy involves application of specific pressure to the hands, feet and ears with the thumb and finger for various therapeutic reasons.
Reflexology in pregnancy is supposed to be able to help alleviate a number of pregnancy related discomforts, help reduce stress and enhance relaxation and wellbeing and even help with specific pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, poor sleep and so on.
According to the Maternity Reflexology website, reflexology in pregnancy can help women in a number of different ways –
1. Reflexology can help with edema or water retention and swelling during pregnancy – to prevent as well as relieve from symptoms such as painfully swollen ankles and feet and so on.
2. Anxiety can be a very real problem during pregnancy and in acute cases, could lead to premature delivery and an underweight baby so it is important to not to ignore its signs and symptoms.
Reflexology during pregnancy can also, it is claimed, help reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Breast inflammation and infections such as mastitis are commonly seen after the arrival of the baby and women with this condition may also find succor on reflexology.
4. A maternity reflexology planner takes into account the medical history of a woman, her lifestyle and habits, her dietary habits and also certain environmental factors and tailors a treatment specific to this, which aims to improve quality of life and prevent discomforts of pregnancy.
Many women claim to derive very positive benefits from reflexology in pregnancy – in the first trimester it can ease nausea and morning sickness as well as the general lack of energy and tiredness that are the hallmarks of early pregnancy.
In the second trimester it can help aid relaxation, ease pressure in the abdominal area and sciatic nerve pain, improve balance, and help to prevent gestational diabetes. In the third trimester reflexology treatment aims to improve blood circulation, improve abdominal muscle tone, relieve constipation, and help the body prepare for labor.
It is also thought that doulas trained in reflexology can help with labor pain management and to reduce the length of labor while offering support to the birthing mother. A stalled labor can be encouraged to speed up and a smooth passage of the placenta facilitated.
While reflexology is gaining overall popularity and its use becoming more widespread, it is not without its detractors who call it anything from a hoax to a scam to at best offering a placebo effect.
The underlying belief of balancing the ‘Qi’ (the invisible force or energy of the body) and that reflexology redresses balance of the Qi is disputed by critics as being a mythical and insubstantial one. There is, critics claim, insufficient evidence to support that reflexology can help cure disease or relieve ailments.
So it is also disputed that reflexology in pregnancy can help to alleviate any discomforts or complications. In fact critics of reflexology claim that it can cause harm in that it can delay obtaining of proper medical attention.
However other than this, there are no side effects to using reflexology and if women find that it enhances wellbeing and relaxation then, there is really no harm in trying it out?