Community Midwifery Services | Touch Therapies for Mothers and Babies
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Touch Therapies for Mothers and Babies

Reflexology for Pregnancy Birth and Beyond.

Why have touch therapy and massage during your pregnancy?

 

There are so many rules that can make pregnancy seem like a delicate and vulnerable time. Women are often put off the very treatments that can be really effective and enjoyable.

 

Following our theme of looking after yourself, we know that when a woman receives hands-on treatment, she is nurtured so she in turn, can nurture her partner, baby and family.

 

Many women have never learnt the art of self care, and feel more confident in pushing and striving. However, bodywork is a great way to be taken care of and feel supported. Since the baby experiences life through the mother, this can be considered an opportunity to create an environment of love and trust.

 

But is it safe to get a body massage or foot treatment while pregnant?

 

There have been concerns that body work or massages in the first trimester of pregnancy can trigger miscarriage, however, there isn’t any research to support this claim.

 

A specialist or practitioner for pregnancy bodywork will use a variety of specific positions and props to ensure comfort such as side-lying, leaning on a gym ball and supported reclining. They would not work in areas that would cause any harm to you or your baby.

 

Gentle touching and massaging is known to be perfectly safe during pregnancy. If you would like a comforting belly rub, go softly and gently. Women often claim that gentle abdominal work can help reduce discomfort around the hips and ligaments which support the bump, and help them de-stress and manage anxiety (http://www.goodzing.com/categories/anxiety).

 

Some people worry that body work can or will stimulate labour, and although there are techniques to prepare for labour, they require specific positions, handholds and are not going to be triggered by this kind of gentle and simple bodywork and prenatal massage.

 

Benefits of Pregnancy Reflexology and Massage:

 

  • Helps the body to adapt to the changes in posture, centre of gravity and alignment
  • Helps to relax the body and mind
  • Reduces muscle tightness in the lower back, shoulders  and legs
  • Holistic care – addresses the whole person rather than just addressing medical concerns such as high blood pressure. Reflexology actually helps to reduce high blood pressure and to balance the endocrine hormones when mothers experience gestational diabetes.
  • Improves circulation for relief of constipation and swelling
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Enhances the feeling of pleasure in the body – releases oxytocin, an important hormone for pregnancy, labour, birth and your postnatal period
  • Boosts energy levels if feeling sluggish
  • Sensory communication with baby
  • Encourages body positivity in a time of immense change
  • Lowers cortisol levels which can reduce the likelihood of postnatal depression
  • Empowers the woman to listen to her body
  • A therapeutic space for the woman to offload or“tell her story!”

 

Research in the UK and Denmark has shown that women receiving regular reflexology treatments throughout their pregnancy tend to deliver closer to their due date, experience shorter labours and need less pain relief than women who have not had regular reflexology.

 

Having reflexology in the final stages of pregnancy helps the body enter a deep state of relaxation and this can sometimes result in the spontaneous onset of labour, preventing the need for medical intervention. One or two reflexology treatments at or around the 40 week stage will also leave your body balanced and rested and in optimal condition to give birth. Once you are past your due date, your reflexologist may use specific ‘labour induction’ techniques to help stimulate the hormone oxytocin which is involved in uterine contractions and breast milk supply.

 

Pregnancy Self Care Tips:

 

Don’t worry if you cannot afford or cannot make time for appointments. A self -massage can be just as pleasant and can provide an emotional connection with your baby. Try a gentle massage on yourself in the shower or even apply body lotion in the morning and evening and give yourself a little love. Use this time to pay attention to your breath, your baby and your body. It only takes a few seconds to connect deeply and many women say they feel great after this little ritual.

Benefits of Baby Massage and Baby Reflexology:

The Sense of Touch

Is developing for a baby around the 3rd week of pregnancy, and research done by Montagu (1978) claims that just before the 8th week, the first sensitivity to touch manifests in a set of protective movements to avoid a mere hair stroke on a cheek.

Healthy Touch:

Touch helps a baby regulate their behavioural and neurological state. In simple terms, healthy touch is the sort that helps a baby to stay in, or return to, a focussed and calm state.

Benefits include:

  • Interaction- promotion of bonding, promoting secure attachment, verbal and non verbal communication skills, feeling respected, empathy and imitation, using all the senses: love, tolerance and nurturing touch, early contact with both parents.
  • Stimulation – of all bodily systems, including the heart (circulatory), digestive, hormonal, immune and lymphatic, muscular development and tone, growth of myelin sheath, sensory integration and connections between neurons (baby’s brain and spinal cord). Read Sue Gerhardt’s book – ‘Why Love Matters’ – How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain).
  • Relief – from gas and colic, constipation, excessive mucus, growing pains, muscular tension, teething, disorganization of nervous system: physical and psychological tension and stress, softening of skin.
  • Relaxation – improved sleep patterns, normalizes muscle tone, increased flexibility, increased environmental coping mechanisms, regulation f behavioural states, reduction of stress levels and stress hormones, higher levels of oxytocins and serotonin(anti stress hormones) and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrin ( stress hormones). Therefore, less hypersensitivity or hyperactivity.

 

Result:Relaxed baby, relaxed parents, everybody wins!!

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