Pregnancy can be a physically and emotionally stressful time. As your body undergoes a massive physical transformation in a relatively short period of time, it can result in uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms such as back pain, morning sickness, muscle cramps, fatigue, swollen ankles and legs, neck and shoulder tension, constipation, hemorrhoids, mood swings, and acne, to name but a few. The inevitable weight gain puts stress on the bones and joints by increasing the curvature of the lumbar spine. Hormonal changes that make the ligaments more stretchable in preparation for labour also make your joints less stable. Add to that any worries you may have about giving birth, your child's health or being a parent. There are a number of therapies that can help alleviate specific symptoms, prepare your body for the act of child birth, and help you relax. The following therapeutic approaches have proved beneficial during pregnancy.
Reflexology is a natural healing therapy that is used to relieve pain and correct emotional, hormonal and physiological imbalances in the body by applying pressure to points on the feet that correspond with particular organs or bodily functions. In pregnancy it can help prevent or alleviate imbalances that commonly occur as your body undergoes significant changes. Many midwives are trained in reflexology and use it during labour. Studies in the UK and Denmark have shown that reflexology can dramatically speed up labour, reduce pain, and increase the incidence of vaginal deliveries, while significantly reducing the need for common interventions such as inductions, episiotomies, the use of instruments, or caesarian sections.
Chiropractic therapy is a gentle, safe, non-invasive approach to resolving the neuromuscular and biochemical problems associated with pregnancy. Pregnancy not only creates problems but can exacerbate existing ones. Hormonal changes, increased weight and a change in weight distribution, can cause increased stress on pelvic and spinal ligaments, muscles, and joints, all of which respond favourably to chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic treatment can also ensure correct alignment to the pelvis which is important in preventing back, neck and shoulder pain during pregnancy and is beneficial for giving birth.
Reiki therapy is a natural energy healing method that originated in Japan. It has been shown to be highly effective during pregnancy in reducing stress, alleviating nausea and morning sickness and improving quality of sleep. Reiki can be used to prepare you physically, emotionally and spiritually for labour and delivery and is frequently used during labour to minimize pain.
Shiatsu massage therapy is commonly used by midwives in Japan to support a healthy pregnancy and prepare women for an easier labour. It works to harmonize the body's energy, relieving common problems like back pain, nausea, heartburn, anxiety and exhaustion. Courses in Shiatsu massage therapy are popular for birth partners, who learn easy techniques that are safe to perform, allowing them to provide meaningful support during labour.
There are many other forms of therapy that can help you during pregnancy including: acupuncture, aroma therapy, hypnotherapy, osteopathy and the Bowen and Alexander techniques. Anyone who has a high risk pregnancy should check with their obstetrician before beginning any type of therapy. Many doctors advise that even in a normal pregnancy you wait until after the first trimester. Pregnancy does not have to be an ordeal. It can be a joyful time particularly if you avail yourself of some the natural healing therapies that can alleviate any discomfort.
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