Boosting Fertility with Reflexology
Reflexology benefits in preconception and improving chances of fertility:
• Reflexology encourages deep relaxation, alleviating symptoms of stress and tension so that conception is more likely to take place.
• Reflexology encourages equilibrium of all the body systems and as a consequence creates the right environment for conception to take place.
• Reflexology promotes regular glandular functioning and stimulation of the reproductive system. Reflexology also improves circulation, aids elimination of toxins, improves muscle tone and increases energy levels.
You may wish to ensure you are well prepared before trying for a baby, or you may have experienced problems with conceiving. Whichever situation applies to you, Reflexology can help prepare your body achieve a healthier state of balance and readiness for conception. Lifestyle and dietary advice will be given to complement the Reflexology sessions, and will be an important component of your treatment.
It is beneficial for both partners to receive treatment, increasing your chances of conceiving, encouraging the optimum environment for conception to take place. This therapy may also help with male infertility, caused by a low sperm count or lifestyle issues. Again, lifestyle and dietary advice will be a crucial part of your treatment.
Medical fertility treatments can be highly stressful, both emotionally and physically. Reflexology can help alleviate this stress.
How can Reflexology increase my chances of conceiving?
• Balancing the endocrine (hormone) system. For example by working on the pituitary and ovary reflex points you can help activate the body’s own healing processes to help stimulate ovulation.
• Reducing stress. Women trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant may have high levels of stress and anxiety. When under stress we experience several neuro-chemical changes which can alter the ordered release of hormones that regulate the maturation and release of an egg. Many doctors agree that over 75% of our health problems can be caused by stress and tension. Reflexology can improve nerve and blood supply and a sense of balance on the body.
• Treating the spine and corresponding spinal nerves which affect the whole reproductive area.
• Working on the lymphatic system to stimulate the immune system, important particularly when considering the importance of healthy mucous membranes.
• Cleansing, particularly the large intestine and the liver.
• It is recommended to have Reflexology treatments weekly for a minimum period of 6-8 weeks, preferably longer. Weekly treatments should be followed with, ideally a treatment at fortnightly intervals.
Treatment during pregnancy
In the womb, babies take in both nourishment and emotional responses from the mother via the umbilical cord. Therefore treating the mother indirectly also aids the baby. Although both have a separate nervous and blood circulatory system, the mother and her developing baby communicate through the nervous and hormonal links. This is especially the case on an emotional level so that if mother is distressed, her stress hormones cross the placenta. Prolonged stress is known to affect the immune system. In babies exposed to maternal distress and a complicated birth there seems to be a predisposition to recurrent infections and allergies, especially when there is a family history of allergy.
Reflexology is an excellent support during pregnancy.
Reflexology can be particularly helpful throughout your pregnancy by:
• combating general stress and promoting relaxation,
• bringing relief from 'morning sickness',
• easing circulatory and digestive problems and maintaining a healthy hormonal balance,
• Reflexology helps achieve a deep state of relaxation, which in turn brings about a feeling of well-being and vitality.
Pregnancy is a time of phenomenal transformation where mother will experience a range of emotional, physical, chemical and hormonal changes. The expectant mother’s body is constantly adapting to accommodate the growing baby, deliver the baby and then restore itself. The treatment will be modified according to each stage of pregnancy. Reflexology is safe during pregnancy as long as care is taken by a qualified Maternity Reflexologist.
I have completed post-graduate training in Maternity Reflexology through the International Federation of Reflexologists, under a practicing NHS midwife and Renée Tanner - founder of the IFR and a world-renowned Reflexologist.
During pregnancy Reflexology can help:
• Back pain
• Fluid retention and lymphatic drainage
• Clear headaches
• Indigestion and heartburn
• Relieve morning sickness and nausea
• Oedema (swelling) in feet and ankles
• Reducing and normalising high blood pressure (hypertension)
• Normalizing low blood pressure
• Improved sleep quality
• Symptoms of tiredness and exhaustion (fatigue)
• Relieve constipation and haemorrhoids.
• Relieve varicose veins
• Clear pelvic congestion
• Symphysis pubis dysfunction
• Aid digestion by boosting the pancreatic secretion of digestive enzymes; the pancreas can become sluggish during pregnancy due to the effect of the placental hormones oxygenating the baby by improving the blood flow within the whole body, helping the uterus and the baby’s placenta.
• Reduce work stress.
• Improve lymphatic drainage and complement the effects of a recommended eating plan.
• Oxygenate the baby by encouraging the blood flow within the whole body, your uterus and the baby’s placenta.
• Turn a breach baby
• Carry your baby to term
• Can be used to initiate labour if you are overdue, thereby reducing the need for a medical induction at hospital.
• At term Reflexology can be effective in initiating contractions and labour by stimulating the pituitary, adrenal, uterus in particular, as well as the liver and spleen.
• Intensify and regulate contractions during labour, thereby shortening labour as a result.
Can Reflexology help prepare me for labour?
Reflexology has been recognised as having a particularly high success rate in the area of labour outcome - many women have experienced labours of only 2-3 hours after undergoing Reflexology therapy during their pregnancy. In addition, Reflexology is becoming more popular for the purpose of pain relief during labour.
There have been several studies within the last few years of which many shed some positive light on the potential effects of Reflexology on both labour duration and the intensity of pain experienced. Studies have found that regular Reflexology during pregnancy can bring about shorter, less painful labour with a reduced chance of intervention for example use of forceps, ventouse or caesarean section.
The findings of the Gentofte study were supported by a further study carried out by Dr Gowri Motha at the Jeyrani Birth Centre on the effects of Reflexology on pregnant women. Thirty-seven pregnant women completed a course of 10 Reflexology treatments with remarkable effects. The average length of the first stage of labour was 5 hours whereas the text book average is 16 - 24 hours; the second stage of labour lasted an average of 16 minutes compared to the text book expectancy of 1 - 2 hours, and only 5.4% of the women who had Reflexology treatment required emergency caesarean section compared to an average of 13% in Newham district which was the district where the study was conducted. (Motha and Mcgrath)
“If the mother has access to just one type of treatment during pregnancy, the best all around treatment in pregnancy would be Reflexology” Gentle Birth Method Gowri Motha, (2000).
Can I use Reflexology during labour?
Reflexology as a therapy during childbirth has been less than well documented; however it has proven to be very successful. Reflexology has many benefits of which can be experienced during labour; natural pain relief, calming and relaxing effect, amongst others. Reflexology can be used at any stage of labour and its effects can be experienced between one and two minutes after beginning. The full effects of Reflexology can be felt after just 15 minutes.
Reflexology & postnatal care
After birth, Reflexology can help restore sleep patterns, encourage milk flow, promote healthy lactation, aid caesarean recovery, and help tone the uterus return to normal size. Coping with a new born baby can be an emotionally and physically draining time for parents. Reflexology can also increase energy levels and vitality after delivery to help cope with these changes. Reflexology can help during this period by calming the mind and relaxing the body reducing anxiety and stress, boosting the immune system,
re-balancing the hormones reducing the risk of postnatal depression. Regular treatments help calm, re-energise as well as providing a valuable space to relax.
Reflexology can help babies too. It can help improve a baby’s sleep pattern, treat constipation, soothe colic pain and teething trouble. Reflexology has been known to help the bonding process between mother and baby. Reflexology can be used for relaxation when performed on your newborn.
Craniosacral Therapy - CST for babies, pregnancy and children
Craniosacral Therapy is highly effective at helping mothers and babies through the birth process and beyond. Craniosacral Therapy can help a woman’s body adjust to the changes created by pregnancy and prepare her for labour in a fully resourced condition.
• Craniosacral Therapy can aid the detoxification process, and help reduce morning sickness. Early in pregnancy the body attempts to release toxins in the form of morning sickness.
• As well as difficulties with the pelvis, spine, uterus, abdominal cavity, and also with organ functions fluid retention, high blood pressure, low immune system, fatigue, headaches, amongst others.
• The weight of the growing baby can put strain on the spine. Lower back pain and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) are common problems due to changes in posture and ligament laxity. Often the pelvis is poorly aligned and the sacrum stuck. Craniosacral Therapy encourages symmetry and free movement to the sacrum, hence allowing delivery to be much easier and less traumatic; therefore benefiting both mother and baby.
• Treatment can also help with hormonal balance improve energy levels, ease stress and tension, helping prepare the mother for an easier birth.
At the time of birth, the mother’s pelvis responds to the emerging baby by expanding and in turn the shape of the baby’s head changes so that it can negotiate its way into the world. Certain physiological changes need to occur. At birth, the baby gets more compressed in order to pass down the birth canal. In the majority of deliveries, the distortions correct within a few hours to days, through breathing, yawning, sucking and crying. When the baby suckles the palate and tongue work to mobilize all the tissues as far as the sacrum and coccyx at the base of the spine. This process of unfolding is visible as the shape of the head changes and the body relaxes; a little like a flower blossoming.
“As a twig is bent, so the tree inclines” (Dr William Garner Sutherland)
After birth the mother can also benefit from a short course of treatment to aid postnatal recovery and help realign the body. Often Mother and child both receive treatments together, which is beneficial as they are energetically so closely connected and involved in attachment and bonding.
Craniosacral Therapy can help both mother and baby recover from the rigors of labour and childbirth. The sooner the better, especially if it has been a difficult and complex labour. Most babies experience some degree of shock, whether mild or severe, at some stage during the birth process. Some newborn babies have clenched muscles as if to protect themselves, the physical birth process may have had a direct contrast to its nurturing time in the womb. Some babies may enter a state of panic, for example if they become stuck for a time in the birth canal, their capacity to cope can be overwhelmed. They can be frightened, frustrated or even angry following their birth (hyper arousal).
Another effect of shock imprinting during the birth process is for the baby to withdraw and appear to sleep a lot (hypo arousal). Despite parents thinking their babies are doing so well because they are sleeping all the time, actually they are suffering the effects of shock. If it has been a difficult birth, the newborn can be in a state of shock, and then it can be as if they haven’t been able to fully arrive. Shock is a major cause of incomplete unfolding. The tissues can often feel frozen, the newborn is often subdued or irritable, will not settle, wakeful and over stimulated. Once released, the tissues can expand and open more freely.
If the mother and infant are not able to make deep eye contact with each other, it may be an indicator of shock. They are metabolically linked emotionally. Mothers and babies can find the process of birth overwhelming and it is recommended that both come for treatment as soon as the mother feels able to after the birth, dealing with symptoms at their onset and resolving before becoming established.
A typical session
Clothes and nappies do not have to be removed for the treatment. Babies/ children rest on a massage table or in the therapists or parents lap/arms. The therapy is playful rather than clinical. The infant may want to tell the story of birth during a session. Usually this can involve one or more of the stages of birth process, where they may have got stuck, or where there may have been trauma or distress. The infant tells a story with the body movement. Sessions for babies and children are on average about 45 minutes, and an hour for the first allowing time for consultation. Older babies and toddlers are usually worked with while they are engaged in some other form of activity e.g. feeding, playing or reading.
The number of sessions may vary from a single session to a course of treatment depending on the needs. It is beneficial to have a few sessions to allow the process to deepen and for the body to integrate the changes.
Parents are frequently relieved and surprised that such a light touch and gentle treatment can produce such profound improvements resulting from cranial work, often just after one session. Babies and children will often sleep longer than usual after a session
Babies often begin to smile and visibly relax during a treatment, gently unfolding and releasing birth strains and tension. Sometimes children release emotions or cry during treatments, but the techniques do not hurt babies and children. Crying during a treatment is often an expression of relief rather than of protest. The therapist’s communication / interactions with the baby and compassionate appreciation of the birth experience, plays a major role during treatment. During a session, the therapist adapts to the attention span and needs of the child.
Regular check-ups every 3 months for babies and 6 months for children are recommended to maintain optimal health and well-being.
Craniosacral Therapy uses the most gentle and safe techniques, to ensure that the body's framework is in alignment and free from tensions and birth strains. In response to physical knocks or emotional stress, the body’s tissues contract, often restricting function.
After birth, as the baby grows, the bones expand outwards so that the soft fontanelles gradually close up to form sutures and the component parts of the bones fuse (between the ages of 3 and 9). Sometimes unresolved cranial patterns may interfere with the emerging cranial nerves. Difficulty in sucking can be related to the hypoglossal nerve, which affects sucking and tongue movements. Irritation of the vagus nerve can affect the digestive tract and be the cause of colic. The compressive forces of birth may also affect the abdomen, pelvis and the spine and cause symptoms such as colic, constipation, wind, respiratory problems, difficulty settling and sleeping. If the neck is affected, the baby may favour lying on one side, have difficulty turning one way, or have its neck held on one side (torticollis).
When working with babies and children, Craniosacral Therapy encourages the natural fluctuating rhythms of the spinal fluid, together with the contraction and expansion of the spinal cord, brain and cranial bones, to help undo abnormal strains and tensions. Craniosacral Therapy encourages the rhythm of fluctuating spinal fluid to help unlock tensions and resolve them. This is not done through direct manipulation, but by stimulating the Cranial Rhythm in a diagnostic and therapeutic non-invasive way encouraging a return to healthy functioning. Craniosacral therapists deeply listen to the priorities of the system with light touch, love and understanding.
During the birth process, the baby’s head moulds to fit through the mother’s pelvis. It is normal for the cranial bones to override each other. The overall effect of the birth process upon the baby, and particularly upon its head, is one of compression. Moulding is a natural process, and a certain degree of resolution occurs quite quickly. However, it is often the case that due to the strong compressive forces that the baby experiences during its birth, the bones of the skull may not fully release and return to their natural position. If they do not correct themselves, they can interfere with proper cranial nerve function leading to colic, breathing, swallowing or digestive problems and more.
The baby’s soft skull can often hold strain patterns, as it adapts to the shape of the birth canal. This short journey is probably one of the most difficult we ever encounter, even though it is what we were designed to do. The quality of our prenatal and the nature of our arrival into the world are fundamental to, and may have significant impact upon, our future development. The first breath of the newborn baby activates expansion and relaxation of the cranial bones unless the infant is holding shock and trauma. The first breath also ignites and allows a more complete expansion of the whole body, especially the diaphragms. If the umbilical cord (the oxygen life line), is cut before it stops pulsating, this can leave a pattern of torsion restricting the free movement of the digestive tract, and be a contributing component of colic.
Following birth babies may be left with unresolved patterns of compression and shock. This is especially true when the birth has been traumatic, requiring intervention. Children’s bodies are malleable, they can correct easily because they have spent less time organizing themselves around their physical and emotional restriction. The main forces on the infant during labour are compressional from head to foot especially on the birth lie side. These can be eased in a few treatments. The relatively soft bones of the head are assisted by Craniosacral Therapy helping them return to optimal position after birth.
As a result of the contractions and passage through the pelvis and birth canal, babies can get very compressed. Sometimes babies are injured physically and emotionally in the birth process. Craniosacral Therapy can address these injuries as well as the effects of long labour, ventouse, forceps or caesarean birth. The bones of the newborn are cartilaginous and flexible. Sometimes symptoms do not develop until the bones ossify later in childhood. This can cause a wide range of problems. Depression, developmental delays, migraine, sinusitis, spinal and pelvic pain neurological disorders and some psychological conditions are amongst the issues that can sometimes be traced back to the birth experience.
As well as helping current symptoms, treatment of young children can be helpful in preventing issues arising later in life. Most infant and childhood symptoms can be easily resolved through Craniosacral Therapy. The aim of the therapist in working with children is to help the child express its unique potential for its present and future life. Craniosacral Therapy enhances healthy growth and future development. Health problems in adults which are linked to their birth or very early experiences can be resolved retrospectively; but may take a little effort to correct and shift later in life.
Craniosacral Therapy can allow unsettling issues from birth (both physical and emotional) to resolve, settle and integrate.
A short course of Craniosacral Therapy is recommended after birth, the earlier in life the better, helping your child maximize their developmental potential and quality of life. In fact it is recommended that all babies are given a Craniosacral check-up soon after birth, just to make sure there are no residual problems that might compromise future healthy growth.
Few births are easy for either mother or child; even the easiest birth may leave stress and compression. During delivery, strains often occur in both mother and baby. Treating both can significantly aid recovery and bonding due to the close emotional and energetic links between mother and child.
In more complex births, Craniosacral Therapy aids recovery from intervention such as:
• Induction generally has the result of creating more intense uterine contractions and has the potential to produce more pronounced shock often resulting in longer labour, and greater cranial moulding patterns / compression of the baby.
• Use of forceps or ventouse often distorts the shape of the skull and creates strains patterns throughout the body.
• Caesarian Section often leaves the baby in shock due to pressure changes as the uterus is surgically opened. The baby misses out on the beneficial contractions and moulding during a natural birth process. Breathing and cranial rhythm can be shallow.
• Traumatic, breech or long labour often results in compression, shock and abnormal moulding.