Background: Many infants under 4 months suffer from infantile colic. Infants with colic cry a lot, appear to be in pain, and it is difficult to sooth them. Colic is a painful condition for the infant and very stressful to parents. Parents in Finland get advice to try reflexology treatment for their infant, but there are no studies in Finland to support this advice.
Aim: The aim of the pilot study was to treat infants with reflexology and find out parents' experiences of the effects of the treatment on colic symptoms and parental stress.
Method: A total of 33 parents of 35 infants diagnosed with colic participated to the pilot study. Three certified reflexologists with health care education background and extensive experience in infant reflexology were trained to give the reflexology treatment in a standardised manner. They treated each infant 3-4 times. The whole body reflexology treatment session consisted of gentle pressure treatment of soles and feet, hands, head, face, ears, back, neck and whole stomach area. One treatment session lasted about 20-30 minutes, and treatments were delivered within 8-12 days. The data were collected from the parents with semi-structured questionnaires.
Results: The series of the treatments helped reduce the suffering of all the babies with infant colic. The colic symptoms disappeared on 43% of infants and decreased on the remaining 57%. The parents reported having pleasant experiences with the treatment, regardless whether the colic symptoms disappeared or continued. Parents stated that the treatment reduced the most typical colic symptoms; infants' body tension, colic crying and restless movements, poor sleep quality and irregular bowel movements.
Conclusions: Reflexology treatment seems to be a safe and effective way to treat infants with colic when conducted by a health care professional with reflexology training and experience.
Keywords: colic; infant; parent; reflexology treatment; stress.
© 2019 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic College of Caring Science.