One of the most common questions I am asked by clients is whether pregnancy and foot massages are a safe combination.
A lot of people are told that it is unsafe to have foot massage in pregnancy because of acupressure points in the feet. It is true that there are acupressure points that are believed to aid in bringing on natural labour when stimulated properly by a trained professional. However, it is not easy to stimulate these points accidentally. For a start, the points need to be stimulated bilaterally (on both side of the body), in a particular way and with very firm pressure. This can even cause discomfort, which is one of the indications that the correct point is being stimulated.
Given that it requires specific actions to stimulate acupressure points in the foot, it is safe to say that general foot massage while pregnant will cause no harm to you or your baby. In fact, specific pregnancy foot massage is highly beneficial for the mother. Women experience many aches and pains during pregnancy, caused by increased hormones, structural changes and weight gain. All of these can lead to the feet taking a beating and getting quite sore. On top of these muscular changes the increase in blood volume and the stress on the circulatory system, especially through the pelvis, can lead to swelling in the legs and feet. This is uncomfortable, can potentially lead to painful cramps in the calf later in the pregnancy and can be upsetting for the mother dealing with dramatic changes in her body.
A well trained therapist can help aid the circulatory and lymphatic system, whose function is to help bring interstitial fluid back to the heart to return to the blood stream. This is done through a gentle and repetitive form of massage on the legs, ankle and feet. However, it is recommended to seek out a massage therapist that has training and knowledge of pregnancy massage and to inform them that you are pregnant, so they know to avoid strong pressure on acupressure points.
As well the physical benefits of foot massage during pregnancy, it also is a great de-stress tool, and a relaxing form of me time for the mum-to-be. It is important for the mother to look after herself during pregnancy and foot massage is a great way to manage stress and care for your body, as well as sharing a great endorphin hit with your baby!
Overall, you should do what you can to help maintain and care for your body and bring some joy during pregnancy and if foot massages help, there is no reason not to enjoy them!
PS: We know there are lots of fantastic Dads-to-be out there who like to help out their partners with a foot rub at night. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on safe pregnancy foot massage techniques you can use at home!