Foot massages are popular with pregnant women because they provide several benefits, including:
- Reduce anxiety.
- Decrease symptoms of depression.
- Relieve muscle aches and joint pains, especially in the back and leg area.
- Stimulate the release of certain hormones like serotonin.
- Improve sleep.
- Improve labor outcomes and the health of your newborn.
With all these great benefits, you’re probably wondering if it’s safe to have a foot massage during the first, second and third trimesters of your pregnancy.
Whether or not a foot massage is safe for a pregnant woman comes down to a few factors, including your medical history, the therapist’s training, the exact areas massaged and how vigorous the massage is.
So let’s look at the safety of foot massages and foot reflexology in more detail to ensure you’re not putting yourself or your baby at any unnecessary risk.
Are There Risks To Foot Massages During Pregnancy?
If you are considering getting a foot massage while pregnant, you may be tempted to have one at the same time as a pedicure.
However, many doctors advise against getting a pedicure foot massage, because they are typically done by someone who is not a certified massage therapist and / or who does not have prenatal massage training (more on this later).
Aside from seeking out a certified massage therapist who has received prenatal massage training, according to the AAP you should also speak with your midwife or healthcare provider before receiving a massage if you:
- Have recently experienced bleeding.
- Have a high-risk pregnancy.
- Are experiencing severe swelling.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have a history of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If you do decide to have a foot massage while you are pregnant, it’s important to ensure the massage is not vigorous or deep, as this could cause blood clots and could also lead to inflammation and damage the soft structures of your foot.
Can A Foot Massage Cause Miscarriage?
You may have heard that having a foot massage or receiving a massage at certain acupressure points can cause a miscarriage – but is there any truth to this?
Many massage therapists will not give pregnancy massages during the first trimester, and this includes foot massages or a message anywhere else on your body.
It’s important to note that there is no research that shows a link between receiving a massage and having a miscarriage.
However, despite this lack of evidence, you will find the majority of places will not accept you for a message until you are passed your first trimester.
This may be to avoid any potential liability should a miscarriage occur after a pregnant woman receives a massage.
Are Foot Massages Safe During The Third Trimester?
Yes, according to the AAP, women can begin massage therapy at any point during the first, second and third trimester.
Where To Get A Foot Massage During Pregnancy?
The safest place to get a foot massage will be with a certified massage therapist or reflexologist who has received prenatal massage training.
These experts should know: what is safe for pregnant women and the areas to avoid; how to position you safely; how to prevent strain to the uterine ligaments; and what the symptoms of blood clots look like.
Keep in mind that general massage training may or not include prenatal or pregnancy training, so it’s best to ask your therapist what level of training and experience they have and to only proceed if you are comfortable with their knowledge, experience and skill set.
Where Not To Massage A Pregnant Woman’s Feet
On of the reasons why you should turn to a trained professional is because they know where to avoid when messaging a pregnant woman’s feet.
These professionals will know the acupressure points that can induce labor, enabling them to give you a relexing and beneficial massage while steering clear of certain areas.
The areas to avoid when massaging a pregnant woman’s feet are:
Spleen 6 (SP6) Acupressure Point
This area is on the inner ankle, about one inch above the bone of the inner ankle.
You should avoid this area because it’s believed to stimulate the lower abdomen (although there is no evidence to suggest it induces labor).
Urinary bladder 60
This area is on the outside of the leg, behind the ankle bone – you can find it between your Achilles tendon and your main ankle bone.
This area is best avoided as some people believe it can promote labor.
Urinary bladder 67
This area is on the corner of your smallest (pinky) toe, very close to your toenail.
You should avoid massaging this area because it could bring on contractions and get your baby in position for delivery.
For many moms-to-be there are limited risks to receiving a foot massage while pregnant, provided they seek out a certified professional who is trained in prenatal massaging.
It’s best to consult with your midwife or obstetrician before your go ahead and get a foot massage.
But in general, provided you are not in the higher risk categories mentioned above and your massage therapist or reflexologist has received prenatal massage training, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of a foot massage while you are pregnant.
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