Louisa Starr and Anna Rogers have several things in common.
The two women from York both have endometriosis – and both discovered they were pregnant after visiting the same reflexologist on the same day.
Louisa, 34, had been trying to get pregnant for four years, including two failed attempts at IVF.
At 25, Anna was told she had a blocked fallopian tube and was given a maximum of five years in which to have a baby.
Each had been warned by doctors that their chances of conceiving were extremely slim due to them suffering from the painful condition of endometriosis, which can cause infertility.
In desperation, Louisa and Anna – who didn’t know each other at the time – turned to local reflexologist Fiona, who specialises in treating infertility.
Each went to see Fiona at her practice, Your Feet In My Hands, included a session on February 9 this year.
Both were shocked when, weeks later, they discovered they were pregnant.
Louisa, operations manager at The Carriageworks theatre in Leeds, says: “I was told I had severe endometriosis and I was going through a pretty hard time, it got so bad that I couldn’t walk past a pregnant woman on the street.
“I knew I had to do something and started looking at changes I could make to my lifestyle to help my chances. I overhauled my diet and tried different holistic and natural methods, including herbal remedies and yoga.”
“Then a friend recommended Fiona. I didn’t know much about reflexology but after four years I was ready to try pretty much anything.
“Fiona picked up on my symptoms straightaway, saying there were certain areas of the feet that would get parts of my insides moving.
“I had five reflexology sessions and was pregnant within two months – a miracle after all the doctors and specialists I’d seen. I’m still in shock. It’s unbelievable it happened so quickly.
“I definitely put getting pregnant down to the combination of holistic medicine treatments, and reflexology is undeniably one of the strongest approaches I believe helped me in my battle and journey with fertility.
“The strange thing is that Fiona knew I was pregnant before I did, she could tell from my feet.”
Anna, who works for Neal’s Yard Remedies and is also an actress, had been warned she had a very high chance of infertility.
“I was getting quite worried. But I had a couple of half-hour sessions with Fiona and started seeing a lot of changes. Within four weeks I was pregnant. I was shocked someone with my problems could get pregnant so quickly.
“I could almost feel the energy flowing and the treatment working while I was having the reflexology.
“I was very sceptical before – I thought reflexology was just a glorified foot massage. But it’s amazing. I definitely put getting pregnant down to reflexology.”
The women, who didn’t know each other before their pregnancies, are due to give birth days this week.
According to the International Federation of Reflexologists (IFR) in London, an increasing number of women in the UK are turning to reflexology for fertility treatment.
IFR chair Renee Tanner – one of the first people in the country to train in reflexology in 1965 – says: “Women are choosing reflexology because it’s non-invasive and completely natural.
“We believe reflexology balances the whole body. We don’t understand exactly how reflexology helps women conceive – just like we don’t understand how reflexology works full stop!
“ It doesn’t work for every woman, we wouldn’t want to get people’s hopes up that it’s guaranteed, and not every reflexologist specialises in helping with fertility.
“But it’s quite amazing in its success.
“Reflexology is very relaxing and seems to help balance the hormones.”
As part of a study in 2009, the IFR contacted 15,000 members and asked how many women had approached them for fertility treatment.
Of those surveyed, 13,600 replied, reporting that just over 6,700 women had contacted them while not having any other medical treatment.
“Out of these we had 2,673 babies,” says Renee.
Fiona, 50, explains the idea behind reflexology is that every part of the body is reflected in the feet, like a map of the inside of the body.
“Working the feet helps stimulate different parts of the body, and certain points are associated with the reproductive organs,” she says.
“I fully believe it’s about relaxing the body and allowing it to regain its natural balance – and then just letting the body do what it wants to do. It’s about the mind, body and spirit.”
Fiona also stresses it is not 100 per cent guaranteed.
But she has many success stories and believes she’s helped more than ten women in the York area with fertility problems to conceive and go on to have babies in the past 18 months.
Fiona claims she even knew the sex of Louisa and Anna’s babies before they did – again from working on their feet.
“I could tell Louisa was having a boy and Anna was having a girl,” she says.
Fiona, who practices from various places in the city as well as seeing clients at home, hasn’t always been a reflexologist.
Before retraining in the aternative therapy she worked in catering for 26 years.
She is now also a qualified Reiki master.
“I was overjoyed when I realised Louisa and Anna were pregnant,” she says.
“It’s wonderful being able to help bring new life into the world.”
Fiona has also used reflexology to help women with other areas of pregnancy, such as easing labour pains and even turning breech babies.
She’s now planning fertility retreats with other specialists to help couples struggling to conceive.
Reflexology history and contacts
Reflexology is an ancient skill that dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Chinese.
Therapists can detect tiny deposits and imbalances from touching the feet.
By working on pressure points, they can release blockages and restore the free flow of energy to the whole body.
It can be used to help all kinds of health problems, from insomnia and stress to muscle pain and headaches.
For more information, visit:
Your Feet In My Hands: www.yourfeetinmyhands.co.uk
International Federation of Reflexologists: www.intfedreflexologists.org
Endometriosis UK: www.endometriosis-uk.org