Reflexology, Massage, Reiki & Exercise in Pregnancy
Details extracted from Dr. Gowri Motha www.gentlebirthmethod.com
BIRTHFIT means that the mother is:
Physically fit and supple at term
Confident and emotionally in control
Capable of meeting the demands of birth
Knows and understands how to manage labour
Normalizing the normal
By being BIRTHFIT you have the optimal chance of having a Gentle Birth a dream of mothers and fathers.
This specific type of treatment of the feet is offered throughout pregnancy (CAUTION is not recommended before first trimester of pregnancy). Reflexology has been found to ease common symptoms of pregnancy and facilitate the smooth progress of labour. It can also help mothers to give birth in a shorter time, which helps mothers to feel energetic after giving birth.
Reflexology in Pregnancy
Dr Motha pioneered the use of Reflexology for pregnant mothers in London in 1987. She then set up "The Gentle Birth Preparation Programme" (now called "The Jeyarani Way" Gentle Birth Method) that included Reflexology as one of the main components. Dr Motha has written articles and also lectured on Reflexology in pregnancy to the Association of Reflexologists and obstetric units throughout the UK. Her extensive years of experience and knowledge have made her one of the foremost experts of the use of Reflexology in pregnancy in the world.
Safety of Reflexology in Pregnancy Reflexology has been performed by Dr Motha and her team throughout pregnancy and has been found to be safe during pregnancy in terms of helping mothers to go all the way to term and beyond, with a reduction of the common symptoms of pregnancy. However, before 12 weeks gestation (before the placenta is fully established) Dr Motha generally advises a GENTLE foot massage, concentrating on LIGHT drainage and working only on the upper areas of the foot.
Despite the fact that we have found Reflexology to be safe during pregnancy, occasionally there have been reports that Midwives have told expectant mothers not to have reflexology during pregnancy as it might provoke miscarriage or bring on early labour. Dr Laurence Wood, Obstetric Consultant at Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry asked us to research this. Dr Motha then presented our findings at the “Clinical Governance in Maternity Services Meeting's at the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists on 16th November 2001. For this study we established the gestation of the baby born to all mothers (who we were able to contact) who had had any reflexology in pregnancy with a Jeyarani practitioner between the years of 1997 and 2001. As can be seen from the graph on the website the majority (45.5%) of babies were born at 40 weeks gestation. Only 1.7% of babies were born at 36 weeks, these babies were twins.
Benefits of Reflexology in Pregnancy
Reflexology can help with all the major and minor symptoms of pregnancy. Moreover, Dr Motha and her team also find Reflexology a useful technique in identifying areas of the mother's body that requires additional attention and that may benefit from another treatment, such as Creative Healing or Bowen therapy.
Dr Motha has researched Reflexology in pregnancy; the main results of this study are shown below; these results were presented at the First European Conference on Reflexology in 1994
Research on Reflexology in Pregnancy and on labour outcomes
Dr. Gowri Motha, Ms Zia Rowji and Dr. Jane McGrath.
Dr. Gowri Motha, Ms Zia Rowji and Dr. Jane McGrath.
In 1992-93 Reflexology was offered free of cost to 64 pregnant women from 20 weeks of pregnancy to term, in Forest Gate, London. Thirty-seven completed the set course of 10 treatments.
The remaining group found that Reflexology helped with the following presenting problems:
It was discovered that the effects of Reflexology on labour outcomes were outstanding. Some had labour times of only 2 hours, some 3 hours. The 20‑25 year olds had an average time of first stage labour of 5 or 6 hours, as did the first time mothers (text book average is 16-24 hours). Second time mothers, 26‑30 year olds, seemed to have longer labours (and may have fallen into the group experiencing more social stress). The second stage of labour lasted an average of 16 minutes (compared to the text book expectancy of 1-2 hours). In this small study it was found that there was very little difference between the labour times of 30 year olds and 40 year olds, even though many of the 40-year-olds were first time mothers – (who had 2‑3 hour labours).
Outcomes for mothers receiving reflexology in the study
(13.0% in Newham District)
In a separate study in an antenatal clinic, Dr. Motha had found that weekly Reflexology treatments of between 30 to 45 minutes normalised hypertension avoiding the usual hospital admittance for 48 hours rest and observation.
Other benefits of Reflexology in Pregnancy include:
- Provides a sense of well-being and helps prevent problems from starting.
- Reduces swelling in feet and ankles
- Relieves tired, aching feet
- Improves sleep quality
- Aids digestion
- Creates a sense of well-being for the foetus
- The mother feels supported mentally, physically and emotionally throughout pregnancy.
- Reflexology during labour can intensify contractions and shortens labour as a result.
When should I have Reiki in Pregnancy?
Reiki can be received at any time during pregnancy - it only ever does good.
In early pregnancy it is appropriate to offer a subtle treatment such as Reiki until the early foetus implants deeply.
Often mothers in early pregnancy find the stillness that is induced during a Reiki session helps them to come to terms with the emotional time of early pregnancy.
As Reiki is a very calming, relaxing therapy it is particularly beneficial when clients have an emotional upset.
The aim of the Gentle Birth Method is to make expectant mothers BIRTHFIT (over and above being medically normal)
Creative Healing Massage was introduced into the programme as a result of the obvious need for the lower back, sacrum and coccyx (together with the muscles associated with those areas) to be extremely mobile and free from congestion to facilitate a gentle birth. Therefore, throughout pregnancy, Creative Healing treatments focus a lot on the spine, pelvic area, sciatic areas and sacrum, because the health and mobility of these areas are directly related to the birthing process. However, as birth is a function of the whole body the Jeyarani schedule of Creative Healing has been developed to align the energy flows in every system of the body. Therefore, Creative Healing treatments for the heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and gut are included at relevant times during the pregnancy.
Creative Healing treatments used during pregnancy include:
- General Treatment (Lymphatic drainage): The most important aspect of Creative Healing is general lymphatic drainage. This is done on the upper back, middle back and sacrum and is offered throughout pregnancy. Especially important is Pelvic lymphatic drainage, which drains excessive tissue away from the central part of the pelvis and increases the space within the pelvic area, thereby making more room available for the baby’s head to fit into the middle of the pelvis for birth.
- Abdominal Toning: Good for digestion and assimilation of food - vitally important to maintain the health of the mother and baby.
- Pancreatic treatment: Excellent for improving digestive function. As well as insulin the pancreas secretes important enzymes to complete the digestion of food. The symptoms of pregnancy associated with the digestive system such as nausea, heartburn, abdominal bloating and constipation improve after a pancreatic treatment. Note: In our programme the pancreas is specifically treated between 32 - 36 weeks to prevent gestational diabetes from developing as the placental hormones might suppress maternal insulin response around this time.
- Liver: Helpful in stopping nausea and vomiting. These symptoms seem to relate to high levels of circulating tissue toxins that clog up the liver and slow down its detoxification mechanism - a liver treatment can clear these symptoms.
- Heart Treatment: Given in early pregnancy (to help it cope with the mother’s increase in circulatory blood volume) and before delivery (as the cardiac muscle will have to work quite hard during the birth process). The heart treatment also helps to calm any anxieties and fears that a pregnant mother may have.
- Hiatus hernia: Helps reduce the feeling of nausea during pregnancy.
- Back and spine treatment: Helps alleviate backache and helps the whole function of the body. May include the neck treatment, if needed.
- Thyroid treatment: Helps increase the mother’s energy.
- Kidney treatment: The kidneys excrete excessive tissue fluids so it is important that they function well.
- Spleen treatment: Helps immunity.
- Sacrum drainage and sacro-iliac treatment
– Decongests the pelvis and loosens the sacro-iliac joints ensuring that the sacrum is able to move and mould as the baby drops down. This greatly reduces the second stage of labour (the pushing time).
– Treats constipation
- Sciatic treatment – Treats the classic symptoms of sciatica.
Note: It is possible for your partner (or a friend or local therapist) to do some of these Creative Healing treatments on you at home. Details on how to do them can be found in our book, The Gentle Birth Method – month by month programme, and they are also available in DVD format.
Exercise & Yoga
Remember, your labour may go on for a few hours – the fitter you are physically, the easier you will be able to sustain your energy levels and so have a better birth experience.
Yoga. Gowri highly recommends yoga during pregnancy; however, it is generally not recommended in the first three months. Slowly introduce it between 14 – 16 weeks of pregnancy and then do at least 20 minutes, daily. Please don’t worry; you do not have to be a gymnast, or contortionist to do yoga. Yoga is good to increase muscular strength and flexibility – which is just what you need when you are getting into your delivery positions!
Walking is a great form of exercise, walk briskly for 30 minutes daily.
Swimming, (preferably in a non-chlorinated pool, such as an ozone-treated pool) once or twice a week. Swimming increases stamina, relaxes the mind, improves circulation, and increases endorphins - the feel-good factor. As well as this, in the water you are a third of your body weight, therefore you will find that you are more mobile and can achieve a greater range of movements of the upper and lower limbs. Swimming also helps you to control your weight gain – it not only burns calories through increasing your fitness level but, when in the water, your body automatically has to heat up your skin so you are burning even more calories – helping you to maintain a trim figure throughout pregnancy. Remember the fitter you are the more enjoyable your birth will be, so build up your stamina over the weeks to your own 'Olympic' standard.
In order that you have an optimum sized baby for your pelvis size, it is important that you don’t overeat during pregnancy. Moreover, the type of foods that you eat can affect the degree to which your pelvis is congested; which then has an impact on the ease of giving birth. These nutritional guidelines have been developed with these factors in mind.
There are 2 types of oil that we recommend that you use:
Pregnancy & Anti-stretch Mark Oil (Choice of the Ayurvedic or Aromatherapy blend)
Perineal & Vaginal Oil, which you should use from 36 weeks. (Dr Motha also recommends that mothers perform a special stretching technique in these last few weeks of pregnancy
OILS AND STRETCHING TECHNIQUE
Pregnancy & Anti-stretch mark Oil.
This oil is to be used from week 20. It should be applied daily over the abdomen, breasts, waist, hips and buttocks. This oil prevents the development of stretch marks. It is absorbed and helps the elasticity of the underlying tissues. It is also, anti-inflammatory and helps to relieve the aches and pains caused by the stretching of the lower back muscles and pelvic ligaments.
We sell two formulations:
Perineal and Vaginal Oil
To be used from 36 weeks to birth. This oil helps to aid the birth by helping the perineum to expand smoothly during birth. Many mothers have reported back that using the oil has helped them to have intact perineum after giving birth.
After 36 weeks of pregnancy Dr Motha also recommends that mothers perform a specially devised massage that helps soften and stretch the lower vaginal tissues ready for birthing. It also shortens the pushing stage and reduces vaginal and perineal trauma. Dr Motha can teach this technique to you as it is described fully in the book, The Gentle Birth Method – month by month programme.
HOMEOPHATIC TISSUE SALT PROGRAMME
During pregnancy the baby requires certain salts, which it gets at the expense of the mother. This programme helps to make good any maternal salt deficiencies and help the baby with its salt requirement.
Remedies: (6c potency)
Calc. Fluor. – for bone development and elasticity of connective tissue (helps prevent stretch marks)
Mag. Phos. – for hearburn and nerve development
Ferr. Phos. – for blood oxygenation
Nat. Mur. – helps control salt, and therefore fluid balance, and helps prevent swollen ankles.
Silica – for teeth, bones, hear and general strength.
The Jeyarani Homeopathic Tissue Salts are especially formulated into one tablet – so you just need to take one, of the specified remedy for that month of pregnancy, twice a day.
Please see The Gentle Birth Method Book– month by month programme.