Pregnancy reflexology — what’s it all about?

Pregnancy reflexology — what’s it all about?

Many of our clients are firm believers that pregnancy reflexology works. They have passed our details around ante-natal groups as our proven track record in bringing on labour and easing other earlier complications of pregnancy have gotten the word out there.

But, what if you’re in one of the groups that hasn’t benefitted from our years of experience in working with pregnant mothers?

We’ve listed below some research studies which prove pregnancy reflexology is useful for mothers to be.

Country of origin: Australia

Title Single-blind trial addressing the differential effects of two pregnancy
reflexology techniques versus rest, on ankle and foot oedema
in late pregnancy

Pair of female legs during Detox package manual lymphatic drainage to reduce swollen legs in pregnancy

Journal Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery
Authors L Mollart
Reference Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery (2003) 9, 203-208
Disease / illness Ankle and foot oedema in late pregnancy
Type of study Single blind study
Number of clients 55
Control type No treatment


The study took place in Australia over a two year period between September
1999 and August 2001.
Inclusion criteria were normal pregnancy greater than 30 weeks gestation;
visible oedema of ankles and feet; the ability to speak, read and write English;
and attending the Central Coast Health Clinics for pregnancy care.
It was a single blind study.
55 women age range 21 – 46, were randomly assigned to one of three
a. the experimental therapy group 1, receiving relaxing pregnancy reflexology for 15
minutes, using reflex points to the chest, abdomen, spine pelvis and head.
b. the experimental therapy group 2, receiving lymphatic foot reflexology for
15 minutes, using reflex points for the lymphatic system, liver, gastrointestinal
tract and kidneys. Grapeseed oil was used for this group during treatment to
reduce any friction.
c. the control group rested for 15 minutes but received no treatment.
At each session circumference measurements of the ankles, instep and
foot/toe junctions were recorded.
Pre and post- therapy blood pressure readings were taken and recorded.
A self administered Likert type scale and also open ended questions were
given to each participant. Questions asked included demographic information,
familiarity with pregnancy reflexology, and levels of stress, discomfort, tension and
anxiety before and after treatment.
55 women finished session one, 39 finished session two and twenty
participants finished session three. Since only session one had complete data
only this session was analysed and used.
Statistical analysis of the quantitative data was analysed using Student’s t test
and one way analysis of variance and content analysis of the four open
ended questions yielded five broad themes. These themes included

Summary sheet Country of origin: UK

Two newborn baby feet between adult handsTitle A concept analysis: the effect of reflexology on homeostasis to
establish and maintain lactation

Authors Tipping, L. Mackereth, P. A
Reference 2000 VOL 6; PART 4 , page(s) 189-198
Disease / illness LACTATION
Type of study Reflective practice / concept analysis / case studies
Number of clients 3
Control type None
Definition of ‘concept analysis’ – a formal linguistic exercise to determine the
defining aspects of a concept – encouraging communication.
Use of Pregnancy Reflexology for the empowerment of Mothers with difficulty in
producing milk for pre-term babies.
Definition and importance of breastfeeding and good flow chart of the
hormones behind lactation.
‘ The aim was to convince colleagues of the appropriateness of Pregnancy Reflexology
as a nursing tool and of its integration into practice’
Very useful for hand and foot points involved in lactation.
A positive, negative and borderline case history discussed.
None made—it is an analysis of a concept
This paper shows that well put together case histories can be published in
recognised journals.swelling/tightness, pain, mobility, comfort/relaxation and care.

Country of origin: Iran

Title Reviewing the effect of pregnancy reflexology on the pain and certain features and outcomes of the labor on the primiparous women

Karen the MAR reflexologist specialising in Fertility at Essential Feeling Gidea park, Romford giving reflexology on footJournal Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research
Authors Mahboubeh Valiani, MSc, Elaheh Shiran, Maryam Kianpour, MSc,
and Marziyeh Hasanpour, PhD
Reference Iran J Nurs MidwiferyRes. 2010 December;15(suppl 1):302-310
Disease / illness Labour in primiparous women
Type of study Quasi-experimental study
Number of clients 88
Control type No treatment
Primiparous definition—A woman who has bourne only one child.
88 primiparous women from selected hospitals in Isfahan, 18-36 years of age, and who met the inclusion criteria, took part in this quasi-experimental study.
They were randomly assigned to one of two groups—a pregnancy reflexology group and a control group who did not receive reflexology.
At the time of entering into the active phase of labour reflexology was given for 60 minutes (30 minutes on each foot). The treatment included 15 reflex areas listed below.
Solar plexus, areas related to the digestive system, pelvic area, pituitary,
outside and inside sides of the feet (including lower and upper extremities and spinal cord),
lungs, shallow chest area, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. Treatment also included
specific areas relating to labour pain such as liver, spleen, kidney, pituitary, solar plexus and
uterus. These specific areas received a further pregnancy reflexology treatment a second time, for at
least five minutes, at dilation 9-10cm. The mothers in this group also received 1000cc of
dextrose-saline serum from the beginning of the active phase through to after the labour.
In the control group routine care was carried out which included monitoring the foetal heart
and contractions every 15 minutes and vital signs every hour. From the beginning of the
active phase the mothers in this group received 1000cc dextrose-saline f serum containing
10 units of Oxytocin, and after that additional 10 units of Oxytocin were added.
Data collection was by observation, examination and questionnaire.
There were three parts to the questionnaire –
individual information made up of demographics and age at gestation.
Features and outcomes of labour which included –
1. the lengths of the active phase of the first stage of labour and of the second and third
2. agpar score in the 1st to 5th minutes after labour
3. haemorrhage rate after labour (based on the number of pads used in the 4th stage (1 hour
after labour).
4. vital signs in the first hour after labour (4th stage of labour)
Pain Rating Index (PRI) assessment was carried out using the short form of the McGill
This was filled in by the mothers in both groups at 3-5 cm dilation before treatment was
given, and four times after treatment at 3-5 cm and 6-8 cm dilation and at 9-10 cm dilation in
the second stage of labour and after the second treatment was administered.
Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data using software
SPSS 18.
No significant differences were found between the two groups for either demographic
information or gestational age.
Using the Wilcoxon test a significant difference was found when comparing the mean pain
intensity in the PRI scale of the pregnancy reflexology group before the treatment and after each of the
dilations and also the second stage after the second treatment. (p < 0.001).
A significant difference was also found in the mean pain intensity in VAS scale for the
reflexology group when comparing before and after the study, and in each of the dilations 3-
5 cm and 6-8 after the first treatment. A significant difference was also found before and
after the second treatment in the 9-10 cm dilation and the second stage of labour.
An assessment scale (zero no pain to 5 pain as bad as it could be) was used to assess
mean pain intensity. A Wilcoxon test on the pregnant reflexology group found that in each of the
dilations of 3-5 and 6-8 cm after the first treatment, 9-10 cm after the second treatment,
there was a significant difference between pain intensity before and after treatment (p

The difference between the two groups when comparing the duration of the active phase of
labour was found to be significant (p = 0.001). Cervical dilation during the active phase of the
first stage of labour was completed in 60-120 minutes for the mum-to-be reflexology group and 301
minutes in the control group.

ANOVA found a significant difference for both groups when comparing the Agpar score in
the first minute after birth (p < 0.001) and the fifth minute after birth (p < 0.001).
ANOVA found that the haemorrhage rate (based on the number of used pads) of the control
group was higher than the pregnancy reflexology group (p = 0.02) and a Mann-Whitney test based on
the blood stains left on the pads found the
haemorrhage rate of the control group to be significantly higher than the reflexology group (p
< 0.001)
The researchers suggest that the results from this study show that pregnancy reflexology can reduce
the length of labour, labour pain intensity, postpartum haemorrhage and an improving Agpar
score and that these can play a part in improving the health and satisfaction of the mothers.
The researchers propose that the use of pregnancy reflexology when used properly in hospitals and
maternity hospitals could have a consequence of preventing the use of pharmacological
methods and palliative medicines which could lead to side effects.

All studies © Association of Reflexologists