Reflexology supports pregnant women with birth anxiety and fear of childbirth

Blog reflexology birth anxiety

In the run-up to our second FHT Integrated Healthcare Conference on 29 November 2019 (, we asked our reflexology members to provide us with an insight into their work so we could share some short case studies to highlight just some of the many ways this popular therapy is helping to improve the nation’s health.

Jane Tomlinson-Wightman, an FHT member and midwife, explains how she uses reflexology to support women suffering from birth anxiety and fear of childbirth…

Feeling a little anxious about childbirth and what it will entail is perfectly natural. However, for some women, the fear is so great that it not only impacts their mental health and quality of life in the run-up to giving birth, but can affect the birthing process itself, including labour times and the level of pain they experience.

In my role as the lead midwife for Safe Active Birth (SAB) at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust, I set up a complementary therapy service in 2016, which includes reflexology.

The aim was to provide a personalised, holistic approach to supporting pregnant women suffering from birth anxiety and fear of childbirth. Women can fear childbirth for any number of reasons, but in those who are referred to the SAB service, it is not uncommon for us to see women who have had a previous traumatic birth experience, have tokophobia (a phobia of childbirth) or other mental health issues, who have suffered from sexual abuse or domestic violence, or who have obstetric complexities.

Women who opt to have reflexology as part of their birth plan receive weekly treatments at 37 weeks (to reduce the risk of premature onset labour) up until the birth of their baby. Anecdotally, we know that the treatment benefits experienced by these women include a reduction in the fear and anxiety of childbirth, and an improved birthing experience. It is also widely accepted that relaxation can help to reduce adrenaline, which intensifies labour pain.

However, it is also clear that other potential benefits of the service may include a reduction in analgesics, a reduction in the number of self-elected caesarean sections, and a reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder and postnatal depression – all of which can adversely impact birthing women and draw off valuable NHS resources.

In order to formally evaluate and continue the reflexology service provided at SAB, which is accessible to women across all socioeconomic groups (including those who might not be able to pay for such treatments), I am currently undertaking an internship with the National Institute for Health Research. This allows me to continue providing the service as a ‘research practitioner’, which is referred to as ‘implementation science’. So far, all is going well and I look forward to sharing the top line results of this research work with other FHT members a little further down the line.

Client testimonials…

Jane’s client, Dr Joanne Price, says: ‘I have been fortunate enough to personally benefit from Jane’s expertise. She offers years of midwifery experience alongside a passionate, knowledgeable approach to reflexology, which results in a holistic approach to pregnancy-related anxiety. My treatment programme was bespoke, adapting to changes in my emotional and physical state to address feelings of tension, fear and apprehension that had resulted from previous pregnancy experiences. I hope that in the future many more women will be fortunate enough to benefit from Jane’s expertise.’

Another client said: ‘I knew that my anxiety about the birth would impact my pregnancy and labour, but despite this I wasn’t able to control my anxiety. I would often be in tears during my antenatal appointments when discussing the labour. I found reflexology sessions with Jane a massive benefit. Not only did I notice a difference in my anxiety levels following the sessions but they gave me something positive to focus on and look forward to, especially as I went over my due date and became more anxious about the delivery.’

Did you enjoy this excerpt?
The above case study is an excerpt from a feature published in International Therapist magazine (Autumn 2019, Issue 130, Steps to health, pages 12-16). To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit


Promoting professional practice to the next generation of therapists

Blog ambassador programme Mary D

It is our mission to promote the highest standards in therapy training and practice, which includes promoting the FHT’s mark of quality to therapists, healthcare providers and the public. We do this nationally in a number of ways, including advertising in print and online; ensuring editorial coverage in consumer publications, such as Natural Health and In The Moment magazine; and working closely with key stakeholders and decision makers within health and social care, government, employment and education.

We also raise awareness on a regional level through the FHT Ambassador Programme, which sees specially appointed, local FHT Ambassadors visiting colleges throughout the year, providing talks to students.

The programme puts a trusted, trained FHT representative in the classroom, giving students reliable and up-to-the-minute information about best practice, regulatory matters, insurance, and all the valuable support the FHT has to offer therapists, every step of their career.

Blog ambassador programme Pam HThis October, FHT Ambassadors Mary Dalgleish and Pam Hardy gave presentations to an eager class of students at the London College of Beauty Therapy (pictured above) and East Sussex College (pictured right) respectively, while closer to FHT’s headquarters in Hampshire, Alice Mort gave presentations at Eastleigh College, Fareham College and Totton College.

Other colleges and training providers whose students have recently benefited from an FHT Ambassador visit include Bolton College, Bradford College, Cardiff and Vale College, City of Bristol College, City of Glasgow College, Chesterfield College, Coleg Gwent, Coleg y Cymoedd, Core Elements, Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow School of Massage, Havering College, In-House Training, Keighley College, Merthyr Tydfil College, Newcastle College, Peter Symonds College, Sheffield College, Trafford College, West Nottinghamshire College and Wiltshire College.

Would you like an FHT Ambassador to talk to your students?

Simply click the link below and complete our short form – we’ll be in touch with you soon!

Students are awarded 2 CPD points for attending the talk and given a certificate for their portfolio. If they are training in beauty and hairdressing, it will also count towards the business units on their course.

Learn more and book an FHT Ambassador talk


Yoga boosts body image in burns patients

Blog yoga body image burns

Body image encompasses our thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards our bodies.

A recent study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice suggests that yoga could be an important tool for boosting the self-esteem and body image of clients who have experienced burn injuries. (Ozdemir and Saritas, 2019)

A clinical trial involving 110 patients in a hospital’s adult burns unit compared yoga nidra therapy and standard medical care (experimental group) with standard medical care alone (control group). Patients in the experimental group had one-to-one 30-minute yoga sessions three days a week for four weeks.

Individuals in both groups were asked to complete the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Body Image Scale.

Self-esteem across both groups was seen as ‘sufficient’ at the start of the test and body image was described as low, with discomfort in body perception. This is said to be common among burns patients, who may have scar tissue and amputated extremities, and often fear losing function of body parts and being judged negatively by others.

By the end of the study, both self-esteem and body image scores in the yoga group were significantly higher than those in the control group.

Read an abstract of the study

Are you interested in promoting positive body image in your clients?

At our 2019 FHT Conference, Fiona Holland will provide practical guidance on how therapists can reinforce positive body image and esteem in clients, promoting healthier self-talk and body-supportive behaviours.

Find out more and book you space today

NHS comments on newspaper article about e-cigarettes and cancer

In recent years the number of people using e-cigarettes (or ‘vaping’) has grown rapidly. While these products have helped lots of people to give up smoking cigarettes, there is still some uncertainty about their long-term impact on health.

A recent NHS Behind the Headlines video looks at the science behind a recent newspaper article that claimed e-cigarette smoke could cause lung cancer.

Click the image above to watch the video or read the NHS Behind the Headlines article

Meet the speakers: Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews, GP and founder of Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

SM Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews cropped

The 2019 FHT Conference, taking place at The King’s Fund, London, on 29 November, is a great opportunity to learn from those who have successfully brought together the best of conventional medicine and complementary healthcare to provide a truly holistic approach for patients.

We’re delighted to be joined by experts in education, healthcare and research, who will deliver talks on a range of topics and share tips on how you too can be a part of the future of integrated health and social care. This week, we’re highlighting the incredible work of speaker Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews…

About Laura

Laura is a GP, the founder of the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre and the College of Medicine Lead on Integrated General Practice. She is extremely passionate about patient-centred care and integrated medicine, saying that ‘“I learn more every day from the people I see in clinics than I do anywhere else”.

Laura also has a strong interest in ‘slow medicine’, which views the patient as an organic being that needs time and the right conditions to heal, as opposed to a broken machine that needs to be ‘fixed’.

About the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

The Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre is an NHS GP surgery. Integrating mainstream medicine with complementary approaches is their primary focus when working with patients to develop treatment plans that reflect not just the illness, but the person who has the illness. As well as offering a range of healing arts services, Laura and her colleagues have carefully chosen a range of the most effective complementary therapies and treatments to offer patients at the centre including aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, acupuncture, nutrition, craniosacral therapy, Alexander technique, talking therapies and many more.

Laura’s talk

In her presentation, Laura will explain to delegates what she thinks good integrated healthcare ‘looks like’, including an overview of the services available at Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre. She will also provide an introduction to the key principles of ‘slow medicine’ and will share some tips on how therapists can make the most of current opportunities in the health and care system and forge links with relevant health professionals and organisations in their local community.

Tickets to the 2019 FHT Conference are just £85 for FHT members (£105 for non-members) and include a networking buffet lunch, drinks reception and refreshments.

Last year’s conference sold out early, so we strongly recommend booking soon if you would like to secure your place.

Find out more and book your ticket

Sponsored by:

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Attended by:

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FHT Fellows promote therapies and raise money for charity at Shropshire events

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FHT Fellows Jacquelene Buller and Janet Capstick, directors of Timeless Partnership, recently attended two major county agricultural shows in Shropshire to promote the benefits of complementary therapy and raise money for charity.

As well as offering taster sessions in reflexology and chair massage to show competitors and the general public, they raised funds for Parkinson’s UK, specifically for the Telford and Wrekin Support Group. Since attending this type of event Jacquelene and Janet have raised more than £1,000 for the charity.

Parkinson’s UK has been their company’s chosen charity for many years, as they are the Telford and Wrekin Support Group’s ‘resident therapists’, providing group members access to different complementary therapies and the Healthy-Steps Exercise Programme.

“The FHT banners we hired were perfect for raising the profile of the FHT and helped to draw in the crowds to the stand, from warming up the show jumping competitors’ muscles, to helping relieve tension in the legs of those walking around the shows for hours,” says Jacquelene. “Regular clients returned and new ones enjoyed the benefits of holisitc therapies.”

Both events were well supported by the general public and the fine weather contributed to their overall success.

In past years Timeless Partnership has raised funds for Macmillan, Marie Curie, Breast Cancer Care and children’s charities.


International Therapist Issue 130 (Autumn 2019)

01 coverAs a member of the FHT, your Autumn issue of International Therapist will be arriving soon!

Knowing how passionate our members are about the environment and sustainability, we’re also delighted to announce that after a small but successful trial, your latest issue of the magazine will arrive in a biodegradable wrapper (please see the carry sheet enclosed for advice on how to dispose of the wrapper appropriately).

In this issue, you will find:

  • A special reflexology feature, providing case studies of how this therapy can be used to support a four different client groups, plus results from our special 2019 FHT Reflexology Survey
  • An introduction to the Full Circle Fund, an integrated service for hospital patients with life-challenging illness, by Suzanne Ruggles, MFHT
  • How to identify your dream client, by Jill Woods
  • Providing complementary therapies as part of a social prescribing project, by Teresa Meeking, MFHT
  • A look at green products and initiatives from seven of FHT’s valued advertisers
  • A look at common injuries in breakers (break dancers)
  • How to get GP referrals, by Dr Toh Wong

Plus an essential oil profile on frankincense; the latest FHT local group news; a day in the life of Hazel Tudor, MFHT, complementary therapist and local group coordinator; the latest research; expert advice; medical A-Z; an interview with Dr John Hughes, director of research at Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and co-chair of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine; a look at the 2019 FHT Training Congress; public affairs and lots more…

And don’t miss the opportunity to win one of four Physique Taping Starter Kits, worth more than £40 each, and a £20 John Lewis & Partners gift card and FHT poster of your choice in the latest spiral quiz.

Landing on your doorstep from Thursday 17 October. You can also log in to read this issue (from Thursday 17 October) and past issues online at