The research abstract below, on a randomised controlled trial of pregnant women receiving reflexology, compared to foot bath or usual care, showed those that received reflexology had a clinically important reduction in pain and its associated stress in labour.
"Reflexology: A randomised controlled trial investigating the effects on beta-endorphin, cortisol and pregnancy related stress
Reflexology is used for various pregnancy related complaints. A three-armed, pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted to test changes in physiological and biochemical stress parameters. Ninety primiparous volunteers experiencing low back and/or pelvic girdle pain (LBPGP) were recruited to receive either six reflexology or footbath treatments or usual care. Primary outcome data included pain intensity and frequency measured on a visual analog scale (VAS), and salivary beta-endorphin and cortisol levels. 61 (68%) women completed the intervention. A clinically important reduction of 1.63 cm occurred for VAS pain frequency following reflexology. Beta-endorphin levels increased by 8.8% and 10.10% in the footbath and usual care groups respectively and decreased by 15.18% for the reflexology group. Cortisol increased by 31.78% for footbath participants, 31.42% in usual care and 18.82% in the reflexology group. Reflexology during pregnancy may help reduce LBPGP, and associated stress. However, antenatal reflexology is under researched and requires further investigation.
Julie E.M.McCullough, Sarah Dianne Liddle, Ciara Close, Marlene Sinclair, Ciara M.Hughes Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Volume 31, May 2018, Pages 76-84. And if you want to know more, here's the link:"