Reflexology during labour

Working successfully with fertility reflexology has meant that I have often continued to treat clients during pregnancy as they have enjoyed their treatments and wish to continue the feel good factor. This has also led to the opportunity of working with clients during labour, a real honour and privilege. Whilst there have been quite a few missed opportunities, I am pleased to say that I have managed to attend stage 1 labour on a number of occasions.

I gave birth to my children over 25 years ago and I can still remember the faces of the midwives involved, this just goes to show the important part played by anyone who works with mothers during childbirth. I would say women are at their most vulnerable during labour, which is why it is so important that everything is right for this very special occasion. Nature has put in an understandable proviso in the name of preservation of life, so that when a woman gets agitated or extremely stressed her contractions and labour will halt until things settle and she is calmer.

Before a woman goes into labour many physical changes take place; in the final weeks there are hormones released that will soften the cervix, as well as the ligaments between the bones allowing the baby to move lower down into the pelvis, this is referred to as the head being engaged, assuming that the baby is the correct way around of course. Pre-labour contractions may have taken place, these are irregular and are often referred to as Braxton-Hicks, this is the body preparing itself and are typically experienced as tightening around the abdomen but often without pain. Some women are aware of the mucous plug that has been in the cervix throughout the pregnancy coming away as the cervix softens, others will experience a rupturing of membranes as their waters break. These are all signs that the body is readying itself for labour.

Towards the end of the pregnancy things will often start to get very uncomfortable and once a woman has gone past her due date, things can start to get very tedious with every extra day feeling a week long. Women will often have to control their response to questions such as ‘are you still here’ from friends and neighbours as they waddle down the road. This is the stage where women will try all sorts of methods in desperation to instigate labour.

Some of the methods I have been told my clients have either tried or been suggested that they try to induce labour are uncomfortable and unwelcome. But after nine months that feel like an eternity, women could be persuaded to do anything to get the baby delivered and into their arms - if only to put them down for a while rather than carry what begins to feel like a ton of extra weight. These suggestions have ranged from castor oil, a vegetable oil made from the castor bean which most definitely causes muscle cramps, pain, discomfort and diarrhea but does not always result in labour, right through to eating spicy foods, drinking raspberry leaf or cumin tea as well as the more physical alternatives of sex, exercise and nipple stimulation!

However, this is when the services of complementary therapists can come be very helpful. I myself have had a few opportunities where clients have asked for a treatment as they want the baby to come now. Sometimes because they were nearing the date set for induction (usually two weeks past their due date depending on whether or not there are any other health considerations), or because they were paying rent on a water bed that needed to be returned imminently!

I truly believe that a baby will come only when both the woman’s