Reflexology in Pregnancy: A Research summary

Reflexology is a popular form of complimentary therapy enjoyed by people at all stages in their lives. Research into its effectiveness is sparse, but the use of reflexology in pregnancy and childbirth has been explored through research.

Exploring easier births using reflexology:

in 1988 103 out of 593 women giving birth at Gentofte county hospital chose to have reflexology as an alternative to analgesia or chemical induction. The results showed 89% stated reflexology had reduced their pain in childbirth. 8% felt no effects from the reflexology treatment. There were 49 women who chose reflexology to stimulate labour, of these 24 gave birth without additional drug therapy. All of the women found reflexology pleasant and relaxing.

Reflexology and labour:

Study conducted by Dr. Gowri Motha and Dr. Jane McGrath, Forest Gate London reported 1994

The study involved 37 pregnant woman who were offered and completed 10 free reflexology treatments. The effects on the labour process were perceived as outstanding. The average time of a first stage of labour was 5 hours, some lasting only 2 hours. This compared to the text book of 16-24 hours for the first stage of labour. This effect of shortening labour occurred in women of all ages including mothers in their 40s. Dr Gowri Motha includes reflexology as an integral part of her gentle Birth method.

Reflexology and Lactation:

Study conducted be Zhang Jie Tianjin China.

Ten women with reduced milk production chose reflexology. The mothers milk production increased and the use of drugs was avoided. The milk production remained stable for the mothers who found the treatment successful.   The study involved only a small number of women and so there would need to be more work in this area before definate conclusions could be made, but it does appear that reflexology would be a positive choice for women with reduced milk supply.

Reflexology and fertility:

There are a number of studies that suggest reflexology can help couples who have experienced difficulties conceiving.

Study By Leila Ericksen, FDZ Research Committee, Denmark

108 women under 35 years with no previous children, and that had attempted to become pregnant for more than two years were selected from 260 applicants. Forty-seven of the 108 withdrew. The remaining 61 women were given sixteen 45 minute reflexology treatments over a 7 - 8 month period. Treatments were given twice a week for 4 weeks, then 2 treatments before ovulation. Nine women (15%) became pregnant within six months after starting treatment. Two thirds of the women had menstruation problems and 77% experienced an appreciable improvement, with the majority totally getting rid of the problems. Three quarters of all the women reported improvements in other ailments such as: muscle tensions, psychic imbalances, indigestion, poor circulation and general imbalance.

Studies such as this suggest that reflexology may help some couples. Professionals such as Zita West, a pioneer in fertility midwife and acupuncturist, recommend reflexology in preparation for IVF treatment. There, however,  must be many more studies before reflexology can be seen as an answer to conception problems but it is a treatment that improves feeling of wellbeing for the women at a difficult time. The stress reduction amd calmness created is a positive influence while the couple continue to explore their reduced fertility.


Maternity reflexology

Reflexology in Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199