Research on reflexology in pregnancy & labour outcomes

Dr Gowri Motha, Ms Zia Rowji and Dr Jane McGrath

In 1992-93, reflexology was offered free of cost to 64 pregnant women from 20 weeks of pregnancy to term, in Forest Gate, London.  Thirty-seven completed the set course of 10 treatments.
The remaining group found that reflexology helped with the following presenting problems:

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It was discovered that the effects of reflexology on labour outcomes were outstanding. Some had labour times of only 2 hours, some 3 hours. The 2025 year olds had an average time of first stage labour of 5 or 6 hours, as did the first time mothers (text book average is 16-24 hours).  Second time mothers, 2630 year olds, seemed to have longer labours (and may have fallen into the group experiencing more social stress). The second stage of labour lasted an average of 16 minutes (compared to the text book expectancy of 1-2 hours). In this small study it was found that there was very little difference between the labour times of 30 year olds and 40 year olds, even though many of the 40 year olds were first time mothers (who had 23 hour labours).

Outcomes for mothers receiving reflexology in the study

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In a separate study in an antenatal clinic, Dr Motha had found that weekly reflexology treatments of between 30 to 45 minutes normalised hypertension, avoiding the usual hospital admittance for 48 hours rest and observation.
Other benefits of reflexology in pregnancy include:

Providing a sense of well-being and helping to prevent problems from starting

Reducing swelling in feet and ankles

Relieving tired, aching feet

Improving sleep quality

Aiding digestion

Creating a sense of well-being for the foetus

Supporting the mother mentally, physically and emotionally throughout pregnancy

Reflexology during labour can intensify contractions and shortens labour as a result

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