Pregnant pauses: Reflexology

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Lying down in a dimly lit, pleasantly scented room while someone gently rubs your feet is something everyone should do at least once in their life, and if that happens to be during pregnancy, so much for the better.

You may not be able to have a pedicure during your first trimester – some spas and salons will refuse this service (there are pressure points in the lower leg that may help trigger early labour in some cases, so they’re erring on the side of caution) – but reflexology is a great alternative.

According to practitioners, reflexology has been reported to help make labour a little shorter. It can make you more relaxed, less stressed and therefore help to speed things along. It was also recommended at my antenatal class as a good way of stimulating labour if you’re going over time.

Catherine Clooney Reflexology operates at the Natural Clinic in Cork City and also at the Liss Ard Gate Lodge in Skibbereen. Clooney, who trained with world-renowned reflexologist Ziggie Bergman and has practiced in London and Rome, makes her own organic rosehip oil (Rosie Supposes, available from Ethical Souls Boutique) and has a deft, delicate touch and a soothing manner.

This treatment is suitable throughout pregnancy and will be particularly beneficial for sore, swollen feet in the final trimester, when it can also help ward off that paralysing insomnia. If you’re into alternative therapies, the theory behind reflexology – that each point in the foot is related to a part of the body – is an interesting one.

Practitioners say they can locate muscle knots and problems in all areas of the body through working on these points. All I know is, I’ve left Catherine’s treatment room floating on a cloud every time, and enjoyed a great night’s sleep afterwards. Each session is one hour and costs €70, and Catherine recommends booking a course of six throughout pregnancy – the sixth session is free.

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