Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘oedema’ Category

I’ve just been listening to the latest episode of The Archers where Helen has just had an emergency caesarean section for pre-eclampsia and thought that it would be a useful subject to write about.

I think it is fantastic that the subject has been covered by the radio programme and on the whole they have got it right (wouldn’t expect anything less from The Archers!) but I would like to add a bit more.

Pre-eclampsia is a potentially serious condition of pregnancy that we are still learning about.  For serious pre-eclampsia the only treatment is to deliver the baby (sometimes prematurely), however for most pregnancies the pre-eclampsia can be monitored and the labour may well start normally and spontaneously, or the labour may be induced around your due date and you may well have a normal birth.

Pre-eclampsia is one of the things that your midwife is looking for antenatally and is usually characterised by a collection of symptoms: raised blood pressure, protein in your urine, swelling (oedema), headaches, visual disturbances and upper abdominal (epigastric) pain.

Many women will experience one or more of these symptoms without developing pre-eclampsia, but if you have two or more symptoms or feel concerned you should definitely speak to your midwife urgently.  For example many women will have a headache or some swelling and this is normal during pregnancy – it is usually only when you have several symptoms that pre-eclampsia is suspected and you will then be referred to hospital for further investigations including blood and urine test and monitoring of the baby’s wellbeing.

Women at increased risk of pre-eclampsia include:

  • Those in their first pregnancy
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having certain blood clotting disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, or an autoimmune disease like lupus
  • Having a close relative (a mother, sister, grandmother, or aunt, for example) who had preeclampsia
  • Being obese (having a body mass index of 30 or more)
  • Carrying two or more babies
  • Being younger than 20 or older than 40

However if you fall into any of these categories you are still more likely NOT to get pre-eclampsia.

There is some evidence (though not mainstream) that pre-eclampsia may be prevented by eating a really healthy diet and by increasing your protein and salt intake.  It may also be beneficial to stop work slightly earlier in your pregnancy and not to overdo things at the end of the pregnancy.

More information on the dietary aspect can be found at https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/dietary-suggestions-for-pregnancy-from-tom-brewer/

Guest blog by Susan Quayle

I became interested in reflexology about fifteen years ago when I bought Laura Norman’s book, The Reflexology Handbook: A Complete Guide. At the time my sister-in-law was pregnant and had morning sickness so badly that she was bed ridden and under threat of hospitalisation. I got my book out and looked up morning sickness in the back and worked the reflexes it showed – having no real idea of what I was doing – and the result was instantaneous. She felt much better than she had for weeks.

It would be a further twelve years before I would work on feet again but this time it would be to train as a reflexologist. About a year after I’d qualified I received an email asking if I would be interested in attending a course in Maternity Reflexology. By this time I’d had two children and was the bearer of double C-section scars so was very interested in what maternity reflexology could offer the pregnant woman. I went along to the course expecting something amazing but not  really prepared for the actuality of how utterly brilliant reflexology is for pregnancy and labour. I came away thinking that Maternity Units were crazy not to have maternity reflexologists working alongside midwives or midwives trained as maternity reflexologists.

Reflexology is fabulous for for everyone but is utterly perfect for pregnancy and labour. They really go together like, like….mother and baby!

Apart from the very serious conditions that are potentially life threatening to mother and/or baby there isn’t a pregnancy related condition that can’t be alleviated and, more impressively, prevented with reflexology. Because pregnancy isn’t an illness but a temporary condition the usual parameters relating to conditions such as oedema, constipation and other digestive related problems, even gestational diabetes, are different from at any other time and if caught in time respond extremely well to reflexology. I say caught in time because some conditions such as oedema need to be treated early as they worsen on a daily basis.

During a treatment mums drift off into deep relaxation, babies squirm excitedly before relaxing with mum into a blissful baby/mummy zone of bonding. During this relaxation blood pressure reduces, energy is restored and reserved, anxiety levels drop and a sense of self and safety permeates the body. Reflexes are worked to balance the internal organs and systems of the body and allow the free flow of blood and energy to every cell of their being. I am always amazed at how early in pregnancy it is possible to feel the subtle changes that take place in the mother’s body – usually the liver and spleen reflexes as the volume of blood increases to produce the growing baby’s blood supply.

I have had many successes with morning sickness, heartburn and fatigue, SPD, constipation, reducing blood pressure, oedema, early onset labour (this treatment was to stop labour at 33 weeks), re-starting labour 5 hours after it had stopped, lack of sleep, discomfort, positive mental attitude toward the growing baby and also toward the mother’s own body image. Regular treatments can also result in a faster labour with less need for pain relief – studies have been done to back up these claims. Women I have treated with regular treatments feel very in touch with their babies and their pregnancies, they tend to say that their labour was easier than previous ones and that they felt more relaxed about the whole experience. They also say that their babies are very relaxed and laid back and that both mother and baby have found breast feeding much easier than in previous births. Reflexology promotes healthy pregnancies, healthy mothers, faster births often with less need for pain relief, happy mothers and happy babies.

I often feel great sadness that I didn’t know about maternity reflexology when I was pregnant as both my birth experiences were over-medicalised and with the use of reflexology might not have been. So this is the message that needs to get out there to all pregnant women – there is help out there to complement and work alongside normal medical practices. You are not ill – you are pregnant and you are doing what your body was made to do. Reflexology can help you to have a happy, healthy pregnancy and baby.

Susan Quayle is a Complementary Therapist based at the Exeter Natural Health Centre in Devon. She is a founder member of Maternity Reflexology South West who work tirelessly to promote maternity reflexology. She lives with her husband, two children, cat and chickens.

To find out more about her visit her website at http://www.lovereflexology.co.uk


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