‘Reflexology and going over your due date’ – It can make you go from happy endorphin flowing birthing mother, to ‘panicky cortisol filled tighten uterus mum’. ‘Baby is not going to come on time’ and a date for the sweep is booked in as if it were a regular coffee morning with friends.
The thought of not going into labour naturally, may fill you with disappointment, but the very pressure of negative or anxious feelings, are the very thing that may prevent labour from starting spontaneously. If we are stressed our basic survival instinct is to not allow our baby to be born until we feel secure and safe.
As a Maternity Reflexologist I’m often asked what are the most effective ways to trigger labour and avoid going overdue. As the due date approaches many couples are eager for labour to begin so they can finally meet their little one.
My personal thoughts are that a baby will come when it’s ready, when the mother and baby are in balance and feeling relaxed. When I give a reflexology treatment it is foremost to give mum to-be relaxation, calm and balance.
Certain acupressure points can be pressed, stimulated or held, to encourage the downward flow of energy and prepare the body for labour. Deep relaxation techniques are included which massage the reflex areas of the hips and pelvis, encouraging mum to relax and allow nature to take over.
Oxytocin and endorphins go hand in hand. It’s relaxing and has a soothing effect on both mind and body. Not only does it help prepare for a timely and straightforward birth, it is also a relaxing way to help manage both the physical and emotional pressures many experience during pregnancy.
I feel like reflexology is another way to prepare for a relaxed and comfortable birth, hand in hand with yoga, meditation and healthy eating. Nine months of preparation to meet your baby is a wonderful journey but also may help you approach labour feeling ready physically, mentally and emotionally.
Here’s a little research: In a study of 100 overdue women in the maternity unit at Walsall Manor Hospital in Walsall, England, researchers found that “more women went into labour sooner and needing less pain relief than those without reflexology”. The study was carried out by a team of midwives qualified in reflexology.
Reflexology study, Walsall Manor Hospital Maternity ward-
“The results of their study show that, overall, the length of the first stage of labour was four hours shorter than of those in the control group of women who had not had reflexology and that the second stage of labour, when the woman starts to push, was 21 minutes shorter. They also found that fewer women in the reflexology group needed strong pain relief during labour.”
The research was nominated for a Royal College of Midwives Award for Innovation in Midwifery.
Though the researchers acknowledge they had a limited sample, the women in the study expressed having less pain and greater relaxation, making for more ease in their deliveries.