Does priming work?

There is no guarantee that your body will respond. However even with a medical induction of labour there is no guarantee of success. What may happen is that you will go home feeling relaxed and fall asleep easily that evening – these can be favourable conditions for your body to go into labour.

Timing is also important, it makes sense to time a reflexology treatment to coincide with a membrane sweep or a few days before a planned induction. That way you are encouraging labour from several different angles. But at the end of the day your baby will come when your baby is ready! So it is a good idea to wait until you have  had a few encouraging signs such as:

  • Well engaged baby’s head,
  • Frequently passing urine,
  • Braxton Hick’s contractions getting stronger and/or more frequent,
  • Nesting instinct.

Research to date

There are currently only a handful of pilot studies into using reflexology in pregnancy and labour. One of the most exciting was carried out in 2010/2011 on 100 mums in the West Midlands. This showed that reflexology did help women to deliver. A team of obstetricians, midwives and reflexologists worked together to offer reflexology to suitable low-risk women from 40 weeks to see if labour could be induced before or after a membrane sweep. This pilot study showed a decreased need for pain relief, decreased lengths of first and second stages of labour and increased satisfaction. Click here for more details.

This study backs up the findings of an earlier study conducted by Dr Gowri Motha in 1993. Dr Motha is an obstetrician, reflexologist and pioneer of water births in this country. She studied the effects of reflexology on labour outcome in 248 mothers (Forest Gate project) and found an increased rate of normal deliveries and reduced intervention. Click here for more details.

Anecdotal evidence

Ask around and you will find Mums who have had reflexology to prime them for labour and will strongly believe that it works! Read the personal experience of one such mum who participated in the recent study. In my personal experience, reflexology may well help women approaching labour, especially if it is timed right (just before or after a membrane sweep or when a women feels labour is imminent). However, even better is when I hear the news that an appointment is no longer necessary as the woman in question has already given birth!

If you would like to find out more about having a reflexology treatment to encourage labour then please ring me for a chat on 01628 773133. I look forward to hearing from you!