Is it safe to receive reflexology during pregnancy? - by admin@mcb on November 18 2015

Is it safe to receive reflexology during pregnancy?

Is it safe to receive reflexology during pregnancy?

Yes. Reflexology has been proven scientifically to benefit pregnant woman. There is no sign of it causing early labor or other adverse outcomes. As such, reflexology during pregnancy is believed to be safe and effective. In fact, it is to be encouraged for its many benefits.

How can reflexology benefit a pregnant woman?

Reflexology has been shown to promote general relaxation and provide stress relief. It can also improve energy levels, and help ease indigestion and heartburn. Backache, sciatic pain, constipation, and edema are also relieved with regular reflexology.  Research has shown that pregnant women receiving regular reflexology have shorter labors and need less pain medications than women who have not had regular reflexology.

Can reflexology during pregnancy cause premature labor?

There is no evidence to support the idea that reflexology could cause a pregnant woman to go into premature labor. Reflexology normalizes the functions of body parts and helps the body to regulate itself into health. Suzanne Enzer is a midwife, nurse, reflexologist, and author of the Maternity Reflexology Manual (Soul to Sole Reflexology, 2004). She insists that reflexology cannot, does not, and will not make the body do anything unnatural.

Dwight Byers, director of the International Institute of Reflexology, agrees. He is emphatic that massage cannot negatively or overly stimulate the uterine and ovarian reflexology zones. Nor does he believe that reflexology applied to these zones will stimulate miscarriage or preterm contractions. However, to err on the side of caution, it should be considered contraindicated if there is a history of premature labor, severe hypertension, placenta previa or recent vaginal bleeding.

More information on reflexology during pregnancy

An excellent article on reflexology during pregnancy, written by Jeanette Barsalini, Certified Reflexologist, can be downloaded here:$file/reflex_pregnancy_jul11.pdf

Institute of Somatic Therapy offers continuing education courses in reflexology and in prenatal massage. We also offer a course in reflexology research.

Blind Doula Works for The Less Fortunate - by admin@mcb on November 11 2015

Blind Doula Works for The Less Fortunate

Blind Doula Works for The Less Fortunate

By Ray McAllister, LMT, CPMT, CMD

When we think of a doula we often think of someone assisting a woman well-off enough to afford the fees. While labor pains aren’t necessarily any easier for wealthy people to bear, there is a place and great reward for pro bono doula work for the less fortunate.

As a male blind doula student, I found no women in my local church group interested in having me assist in their births. So, I reached out to a local homeless shelter. Not only would the women there be less parochial in thinking, but they would have fewer resources and less family support. (Hence, surviving in a homeless shelter.) Within a six-week time span, I had assisted in the three required births.

During these births, I found myself in some very unique situations. In one case, some rather crass male family members wanted to watch the foot ball game during the birth. I had to gently counsel a boyfriend who told his laboring girlfriend to “shut up.” One boyfriend wasn’t even there at all at the birth. There were moments when I was the only person sitting with one of the women. In some cases, the women were so broken of spirit due to their down-trodden lives that they just, emotionally, would break down and cry through pain that female family members said seemed really light. Then, when a hospital midwife’s shift would end, another midwife would take over, whether or not the patient liked that idea.

Recently I received a call from the homeless shelter concerning a woman who had been having contractions five minutes apart for the last hour and whose birth partner couldn’t be with her. After I finally convinced the shelter to get her to the hospital, she consented to my being her doula. She was in so much trauma and so far along that they couldn’t start an IV, let alone an epidural, so I had to help her through an unwilling, unmedicated birth. She was throwing out nurses she didn’t like, but she accepted me, even though she’d never met me before. She was very thankful for my presence and sacral counterpressure. Perhaps in this instance, me being a blind doula was helpful. It likely makes my being a male less threatening.

There are many things I learned from these experiences concerning doula work for the homeless and destitute. Firstly, it is a great way to work toward the three required births for certification. Dental schools often have students practice on people who can’t afford to pay full price. Student doulas can do the same, not receiving money, but receiving experience. Secondly, there’s the feeling of truly making a difference for someone who needs it and who cannot otherwise repay. Whoever comes and goes, the doula is the one constant with the woman. No one should have to give birth alone. I truly believe that we need more doulas willing to work with the less fortunate. If every doula took on one pro bono case per year, think of the many lives that would be touched.

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With the help of Ray McAllister, LMT, CPMT, CMD, the Institute of Somatic Therapy now offers Braille files for blind doula and blind prenatal massage therapy students. To see our prenatal and doula courses, please click here.

DVT in Pregnancy - by admin@mcb on November 06 2015

DVT in Pregnancy

Because DVT in pregnancy and postpartum periods is a concern, massage therapists working with pregnant women need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Statistics of DVT in pregnancy

Women are at a greater risk to develop DVT in pregnancy or immediately postpartum than when not pregnant. While DVT is often associated with pregnancy, the incidence of DVT is actually higher among postpartum women than it is in pregnant women. Statistics from the American Heart Association estimate that DVT occurs in 1/2 – 1% of all pregnancies, and is nearly five times higher among postpartum women. As such, massage therapists need to keep an even more critical to watch for DVT when performing postpartum massages.

Symptoms of DVT

Symptoms of DVT include any or all of the following: 1) pain in the calf or medial thigh isolated to one leg, 2) swelling isolated to one leg, and 3) redness (or elevated heat) isolated to one leg. In some cases, however, DVT has no discernible symptoms at all.

Diagnosis for DVT

The best diagnosis for DVT is a blood test or ultrasound imaging. Massage therapists are not equipped to make a diagnosis of DVT. Although widely taught, the Homan’s Sign (aka Homan’s Technique) has been shown to be an unreliable method of diagnosis. Massage therapists should not rely upon it.

If you have reason to suspect DVT in any client, stop the massage and urge them to seek medical attention immediately. To continue the massage could cause the clot to dislodge and travel to other parts of the body. This could cause serious complications including the possibility of death. The suspicion of DVT is an absolute contraindication to massage, without exception.

Although DVT in pregnancy is not uncommon, several research articles on the disease do not mention pregnancy among the highest risk factors. This should serve to remind us to watch for DVT among all of our clients.

To learn more about DVT, the Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a course titled Pathology – Deep Vein Thrombosis.  To become certified in pregnancy massage, click here.