All About Maternity Reflexology

January 18, 2017 | Blog, Parenting, Wellbeing

Louise Vaughan-Arbuckle trained in massage in London in 1989 and broadened her skills to include reflexology  2 years later. In 2004, while working in Paris she chose to specialise as a maternity reflexologist and has since developed a significant practice in this area. Louise trained in Maternity Reflexology in England with internationally renowned Susanne Enzer, a midwife and reflexologist. Louise is now based in Antibes and Beausoleil, Monaco. Four times a year she works in Paris. With a specialisation in maternity reflexology, Louise also offers support with fertility, pregnancy, postnatal and new baby. She also offers a selection of workshops throughout the year including Reflexology Self-help Techniques for all the Family and Baby Reflexology.

Maternity Reflexologist Louise Vaughan-Arbuckle

What is reflexology?


Reflexology is a complementary therapy where pressure is applied to feet or hands with fingers and thumbs, so in its most basic form, a foot massage. The body is ‘reflected’ on the feet/hands, giving rise to the term reflex points or zones. There are 4 distinct horizontal dividing lines:

· the head and neck → toes/fingers
· upper thoracic area so from base of neck to diaphragm → ball of foot
· diaphragm to waistline → from base of ball of foot to half way down sole of foot
· below the waistline → the lower half of the sole of the foot

Here are links to interactive foot and hand maps to help you see the art of Reflexology more clearly:

So by using finger/thumb pressure on the parts of the foot you’re able to work on organs, glands, intestines etc. This brings any imbalances in the reflex points to the attention of the brain so that the body can work towards balance. Reflexology works on not just the physical but can also help on the emotional and spiritual levels. So it truly is a holistic therapy.

Can you tell us how you became interested in reflexology in the first place?


In 1989 I studied massage and found that good though it was, it wasn’t enough. I started looking for another therapy that would work on a deeper level. Massage, for me, works from the outside towards the inside. Whilst training in reflexology I realised that this worked on an altogether deeper level! It works from the inside of the body towards the outside of the body; this was just what I was looking for!

You have specialised in maternity reflexology. How did that come about and what does that encompass?


It was pregnant women who chose me rather than me choosing to specialise in Maternity Reflexology! As I’d never been pregnant, it was a bit of a surprise to me and a fascinating learning curve. Maternity Reflexology encompasses everything from pre-conception to new baby. Through the training, I was able to get a thorough understanding of pregnancy as well as of course when to and when not to treat!

There is some suggestion that reflexology may aid fertility. Do you think it can?


Where there is no medical reason for not falling pregnant, then, yes I do think Reflexology may be able to aid fertility. For me, it’s about finding ‘why’, so what the ‘block’ is and then working from there. Not getting pregnant can be an emotional rollercoaster and very stressful, reflexology can be excellent support for both the woman and the man.

How can reflexology help a woman throughout her pregnancy?


Maternity reflexology can help in a number of ways and it is good for both the mother-to-be and the foetus/baby. Here are but a few of the common complaints during pregnancy that can be helped: constipation, morning sickness, helps the immune system, fatigue/tiredness, backache, balance hormones, emotional/mood swings, water retention/puffy feet. It also gives the woman the opportunity to talk about any worries that she may have about the forthcoming birth and the change from a pregnant woman to mother. Reflexology at term can be helpful for encouraging the baby to kick start labour.

Once a baby is born, reflexology can be helpful as it gives the mother the opportunity to talk about the birth in as much detail as she likes, so a full debriefing. It can help bring the hormones into balance and can be helpful when there are breastfeeding issues.

Can reflexology help physical and emotional conditions?




Reflexology works on many levels including the physical and emotional ones. It all depends on what the condition is and its origin. The length of time it takes to help will depend on how longstanding the condition is. There are some cases where reflexology is not appropriate. There’ll be other cases where Reflexology is used in conjunction with/complementary to other modalities such homoeopathy, allopathic medicine, Alexander Technique, psychotherapist etc.

What are the most common complaints of your clients?


Some of the most common reasons are stress and stress-related conditions, digestive issues including IBS and constipation, fertility issues, pregnancy, to gain a sense of wellbeing, boost the immune system, headaches, menopause and period pains.

Can you treat babies with reflexology?


Indeed you can! Reflexology can be used to help for many different things including cases of: colic, positing, constipation, vomiting, crying and emotional distress. The reflexology session will be much shorter and with adapted techniques than when working on adults and children. I find it’s best to teach the parents how to give their baby reflexology as it will strengthen the ties between them.

Once the parents know how to give Reflexology and are confident, they then have a tool at their fingertips for use whenever needed. When the baby has had enough, they’ll show you by kicking your hands away!

What is the most common condition you see among children?


At the moment, I don’t see many children. When I have the honour to work with them it’s generally to calm them down, help them sleep etc. The length of the session depending on the child’s age is 10-15 minutes. There are protocols in place when working with children, a parent must be in the room.

Can reflexology be used in tandem with conventional medicine to help cure a condition?


Absolutely! Reflexology is a complementary therapy and works well alongside allopathic medicine. Reflexologists are not allowed to claim to ‘cure’ anything.

Talk us through a typical reflexology session.


The first visit will always start with the completion of a medical history questionnaire and a discussion about where you are and what your expectations are. There’ll also be an explanation of reflexology and its ‘healing responses’.

At the beginning of every treatment, there is time for a catch-up, what’s been happening etc. After all the talking is done then it’s time to take off your shoes and socks and lie back in a reclining chair and relax. Some people choose to talk and ‘offload’ all their problems, others close their eyes and drift off. For the next hour, the reflexologist will palpate, massage your feet including your toes, ankles, soles (plantar) and backs/tops (dorsal) of your feet. You might find some areas a bit crunchy or tender, even painful. If the pressure or pain is too much, tell your reflexologist! Reflexology is after all meant to be pleasurable not torture!!

Your reflexologist will recommend that you drink lots of water after a Reflexology treatment to flush out the toxins that have been ‘woken up’. ‘Healing responses’ to the Reflexology treatment generally occur up to 48 hours post-treatment. They include:
* relaxed, zen
* tired/sleepy
* energised
* feeling cold from the inside – this is the most common reaction and can start during the session. It’s as if the body’s heating system shuts down so that the energy saved goes to the places in the body that needs it
* thirst
* headache – this tends to only happen if you’ve not followed your Reflexologist’s advice to drink lots of water after your treatment

Depending on what comes up, there may be some ‘homework’ to do! This is entirely optional. A reflexology treatment lasts for about an hour of hands on feet time and then time to talk. If you do not feel comfortable, at ease or feel there is not a good ‘connexion’ between you and the reflexologist, then please look for the right reflexologist for you. All that goes on during your reflexology appointment is strictly confidential from the part of the reflexologist.

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