MATERNITY REFLEXOLOGY AS A PREVENTATIVE THERAPY
By Mauricio (Moshe) Kruchik
REFLEXOLOGY AND PREVENTION
Some years ago, when modern Reflexology was still in diapers and it was given by a bunch of courageous people, it was unthinkable to give Reflexology in Maternity.
The indications for Reflexology in Maternity were very precise: only treat symptomatically, that means, only when symptoms appear.
However, Reflexology demonstrated through the years that it is an excellent therapy with a great potential for preventing symptoms. It is not a kind of magic because the concept of prevention is inside the definition of Reflexology as a therapy: when stimulating the natural healing resources of the body in order to heal itself, helping homeostasis.
The problem with prevention is that if prevention was well done, you would never know if that specific problem should have really appeared.
Some people prefer to wait without making any changes to prevent a condition and acknowledge their illness or condition only when it happens, deciding only then to receive treatment in any form: natural therapies, medication, etc.
Pregnancy is a special period in woman’s life in which many symptoms and conditions are only waiting for the best scenario to appear. It is a long period, sometimes tedious and tiring, which involves waving emotions: fear, responsibility, anxiety, stress, only to cite a few. Today, nobody wants to take risks. Modern medicine provides women with a large variety of responses, which tend to anticipate and avoid the appearance of diseases and diminishing their risks, both for the mother and for the baby.
A great effort is put to educate mothers-to-be in order to have a safe pregnancy and to create the best environment for a successful birth. It is worth to everybody. For the mother, because she gains quality of life, and as a direct consequence, the baby grows in a harmonic environment. And for the medical system, because risky conditions need the services of very high-qualified professionals and because of the fact that it can be onerous to the medical institution and the insurance companies.
Changes in lifestyle, dietary habits and exercise, to give an example, are often recommended and indicated as an essential part of the whole process of pregnancy, aiming to create the most safe and comfortable conditions for the correct developing of the baby and to protect the mother’s health.
However, risks and conditions don’t ask permission to appear. Risky factors must be taken into consideration in order to draw a right profile of the mother-to-be in order to escort her through her pregnancy. Many times, they are manageable, that means preventable.
HOW REFLEXOLOGY CAN HELP PREVENT GESTATIONAL DIABETES
For example, let’s talk about a clear example of prevention: Gestational Diabetes, a condition that affects around 3% of all pregnant women. Gestational Diabetes is fundamentally an insulin resistance process due to hyper-secretion of Placental Lactogen Hormone (PLH), Cortisol and Estrogens. PLH inhibits receptors of insulin work properly so it causes a resistance to insulin, which derivates in high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. In women with no antecedents of diabetes or inherited risky factors, this condition is not due to a pancreatic insufficiency. However, the mother’s body needs up to three times more insulin to cope with the amount of glucose that must be regulated. This glucose passes to the baby and excess is stored in the liver as fats, leading to an abnormal growth of the baby and to complications such as Macrosomia or Shoulder Dystocia, which frequently end in a Caesarean Section.
Is GD preventable? Yes, it is, although opinions are divided.
A complete anamnesis of the mother-to-be at an early time can show risk parameters if they exist and they can advice about the further treatment to follow. For example: obesity or overweight before the pregnancy, previous pregnancies with GD, diabetes in the family, being Black or American Indian, sedentary life, etc. Around weeks 18-20, GD starts to develop, however it is impossible to measure it until week 24 to 28. Knowing the mother-to-be antecedents and lifestyle, it would be a good idea to recommend exercise, intake of fluids, prevent sugar abuse and to observe a strict diet some weeks before GD can be diagnosed.
How can Reflexology help preventing GD? As a complementary therapy based on touch and relaxation, offering the necessary relaxation and the understanding attitude that must come from a qualified Reflexologist.
We must take into our consideration the important role that emotions play during pregnancy. Just observe that GD starts to develop once the mother-to-be has overcome the first milestone in her pregnancy, the crucial 14 first weeks of adaptation, dialog and umbilical communication from mother to baby, hopes, anguish, anxiety, euphoria, and hopes. The mother-to-be is a person who needs warmth, comprehension, compassion, sympathy and support. Her endocrine system reacts immediately to every single event in her life.
When treating a pregnant woman in every period, you must be aware of the kind of symptoms that she might develop at every stage of pregnancy. For example, and following the same example of GD, if this mother-to-be is coming for the first time after week 16, it becomes necessary to start balancing her body in order to prevent the appearance of GD.
Added to counseling and recommending the attention to preventing factors, like changes in lifestyle, Reflexology can be of tremendous help for both preventing and treating GD. Inducing to deep relaxation will help decreasing glucose levels, as well as gradual, non aggressive endocrine balance stressing the accent on the pancreas reflex can help boosting insulin levels and as a consequence, allowing the glucose enter the cells and not to flowing into the bloodstream.
It is also very important not to forget the spiritual stress that comes with this situation. It implies frustration, anxiety and deprivation in a period in which you are empowered to pamper yourself. Solar Plexus (traditional and Hanne Marquardt’s points) and Metamorphic techniques are of outstanding body response.
Reflexology offers an effective, friendly, safe and non-invasive answer to almost all the conditions that might appear during pregnancy and it is an excellent, effective therapy to work with during the hard moments of labor. The great extent of Reflexology during pregnancy is exactly that: prevention of symptoms and treatment when conditions appear.
It is important to have a good knowledge of pregnancy facts, a complete anamnesis and a focus on all the most common alternatives that might occur during pregnancy. Then, the second step will be to decide When, How and What to do.
Pregnancy is still a completely unpredictable period, influenced by unknown internal and external factors. Dramatic conditions can appear, sometimes creating emergencies, like Pre Ecclampsia, DVT or HELLP Syndrome to cite a few examples. This is not exactly the moment in which Reflexology may be applied. When the mother’s and baby’s lives are at risk, we have to step aside and only be there when the green light is given to us.
REFLEXOLOGY AND PREVENTION DURING LABOR
Is chemical induction preventable? Yes, it is. In many occasions, doctors decide to administrate a chemical induction to the mother. If when rupturing the membranes, the uterus is not contracting nor dilating after some hours, or if fetal distress is starting to happen, just to cite two examples, a synthetic form of Oxytocine called Pitocin (Syntocinon) is given in order to induce contractions and as a consequence to provoke dilation. The result is that contractions come quickly and suddenly; they are unbearable and uncontrollable. In most cases, it doesn’t take that long until the mother asks for an epidural anesthesia.
Can Reflexology prevent all this chemical intervention? Yes, definitely.
Reflexology is of great help when regulating contractions during birth. Stimulating the pituitary gland reflex together with the uterus reflex in order to provoke the secretion of natural Oxytocine and stimulating the uterus reflex to provoke a positive feedback of this hormone. The consequence is that Oxytocine is secreted quickly but it comes gradually, contractions are much more bearable and controllable and they let the mother adapt to them at her own rhythm, therefore allowing a better administration of her own energies. The result in most of the cases is a faster dilation, helping to a completely natural birth, shortening the period of labor and therefore saving many hours of useless pain.
WHEN TO START TREATING
There is a time in which the sperm develops into a fetus; there is a time in which the mother adapts to the new life growing inside her. There is a time of starting to assume motherhood as a fact, a dialog between mother and baby in which both adapt to each other. Nobody must interfere in this process. It takes fourteen weeks until the fetus builds the organs and right after that, statistics show that the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. The first fourteen weeks are one of the most important milestones during pregnancy if not the most important. The mother has accepted the baby. The baby has accepted the mother. The baby is starting to develop into its own environment, in which it will live 26 more weeks.
I personally suggest that even being Reflexology a safe therapy, never give a treatment during this period unless it is an old patient of yours to whom you have given treatments before pregnancy and from whom you have a comprehensive knowledge. There are two reasons that backup this attitude: if something happens, i.e. a miscarriage before week 14 and you have given a Reflexology treatment, you can be in trouble. Reflexology has not been yet totally recognized by the majority of the Medical systems around the world. This puts you in a serious situation in which nobody can prove that you are guilty for what you have done, but at the same time, nobody will be able to defend you or protect you.
If this happens, your career can be at risk and your reputation as a therapist as well. But over all, it might also happen the terrible and undesirable feeling of having interrupted the normal development of a new life.
I wish that what is written today in this article would not be actual anymore in some more years, when Reflexology hopefully becomes a totally recognized, institutionalized therapy around the world. Still a long way is ought to walk until this occurs.
I always think about the first rule I learned when started to study Reflexology and from then, it is an iron rule for me: Your first role must be not to cause any damage. Only after that, try to deliver healing energies to your patient.