One 40-minute reflexology session per day for six days resulted in an immediate increase in breast milk volume among mothers who had given birth to preterm infants, according to recent research.
The study, “Investigating the effect of reflexology on the breast milk volume of preterm infants’ mothers,” involved 50 mothers with preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. All subjects had given birth three days prior via cesarean section, and their infants ranged in gestational age from 29 to 36 weeks.
For the study, the women were randomly assigned to either the reflexology group or a control group. Those in the control group received standard breastfeeding training. Those in the reflexology group received one 40-minute reflexology session per day for six days. During these sessions, the practitioner focused on each foot for 20 minutes, beginning with with a “simple massage” of the calf, ankle and foot.
“Subsequently, the researcher first applied continuous pressure to kidney one, and then the pressure was applied in a rotational manner,” state the study’s authors. “Next, the pituitary point in the middle of the toe was pressed continuously, and then the points on the foot between the second, third, and fourth metacarpus were reflected with the clockwise rotational movement of the thumb.”
The main outcome measure in this study was breast milk volume. For a baseline measurement, the mothers were instructed to use a breast pump for 15 minutes at 11 a.m. the day before the intervention period began and record the amount of milk collected.
During the six-day intervention period, the women continued to use a breast pump for 15 minutes at 11 a.m. daily, recording the amount of milk collected each day. For those assigned to the reflexology group, these 11 a.m. pumping sessions occurred one hour after receiving reflexology.
Results of the research show the mean increase in milk volume was significantly higher in the reflexology group compared to the control group on days one through five of the intervention period.
“The results indicate that reflexology is effective on the volume of milk of mothers, and this low-cost and easy procedure can be used along with regular lactation training,” the study’s authors conclude.
Authors: Atena Mohammmadpour, Mahboubeh Valiani, Alireza Sadeghnia and Sedigheh Talakoub.
Sources: Student Research Center, Department of Midwifery, and Department of Pediatric and Neonatal Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran; Department of Neonatology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. Originally published in the September-October 2018 issue of the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 23(5), 371-375.