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Pregnancy not only causes an increase in the size of your tummy, but your legs and feet may undergo swelling as well. Every pregnant woman knows the ache that accompanies the swelling, which can get quite intense at times. Pressing down on pressure points might bring some relief, but a gentle massage will sound so relaxing that getting one might be too good to resist. But does it have any benefits? Or are there more risks? Let’s find out.
Is a Foot Massage Safe During Pregnancy?
Many women wish to opt for a pedicure foot massage while pregnant and get relief from the pain, especially after knowing that there are specific massages meant for pregnant women. However, these have not been approved by any medical authority, so their benefits cannot be fully determined. Many spas do not accept pregnant women, and many doctors avoid recommending a massage therapist as well.
But a well-experienced professional performing the right kind of pregnancy massage will be safe for the mother as well as bring the necessary benefits along with it. These professionals undertake special training and certification and have the right knowledge of where to massage and which areas to avoid.
What Are the Benefits of a Pregnancy Foot Massage?
There are many benefits of a foot massage during pregnancy. Some of those are:
The fluid retention in a pregnant woman is higher than usual. This is further accompanied by vein compression since the growth of the uterus applies pressure on them. By undergoing a foot massage, these swellings can be relieved, and the circulation can be aided to bring about a relaxing feeling.
It has been observed that a foot massage done properly on a daily basis can help reduce the swelling of the leg by a considerable amount.
The process of the massage induces a calm and peaceful feeling and helps in restoring mental balance. This is essential for first-time mothers as the stress and anxiety of the pregnancy can get in the way of having a healthy delivery.
For mothers who show signs of depression and are on medication, undertaking regular massages can help boost their mood. It may also help in the delivery of a healthy baby.
The foot massage is felt by the foetus, too, and the baby tends to respond to it by moving inside the womb. This helps in strengthening the bond between the mother and child and bring about non-verbal communication.
Proper Way to Perform a Foot Massage While Pregnant
Undergoing a foot massage during the third trimester of your pregnancy can bring the right benefits when done correctly. Using the right massage oil and massage technique is just as necessary. Here are a few steps your partner or caretaker can follow to perform a foot massage properly.
The first step is to apply a good amount of oil to the pregnant woman’s feet and the partner’s hands. This will make it easier to massage the feet.
Beginning from the feet, start massaging from the toes to the ankle while applying pressure. Make sure the partner’s grip isn’t too firm. Keep massaging the feet for about 5-8 minutes.
Once that is done, move upwards from the ankle. Focus on the section from the ankle to the knee and begin massaging it. Make sure to use both hands to cover as much area of the legs and the calves as possible. Keep the pressure steady for both hands and maintain a pace of broad strokes, right from the ankle up to the knee in a single, non-stop motion. Continue doing this for about 10 minutes or so.
Once that is done, move on to the final stage. Now, focus on the region from the knee up to the thigh. Rub a little more oil if needed to keep the area lubricated. Be a little careful in this region but maintain a firm, steady pressure. The thigh has a larger surface area, so it is best to use two hands and alternately massage the lateral sections and then the vertical ones. This ensures you cover the entire leg and bring total relief. Continue doing this for 5-8 minutes. Then take a break before moving to the other leg.
What Are the Risks of Getting a Foot Massage During Pregnancy?
The relief from a foot massage is immense, but there are certain risks associated with foot massages that include but are not limited to inducing labour during pregnancy. Some major points that need to kept in mind are:
1. Risk of Pre-eclampsia
In certain cases, your legs might suddenly swell a lot more than before and lead to a rise in blood pressure as well. This condition is termed as preeclampsia, and it can have severe repercussions. Women who face this condition generally experience it in the last stages of pregnancy, primarily when the weight gain has become tremendous. Many bouts of headache begin to occur, blood pressure shoots through the roof, oedema starts happening, and vision begins to be disturbed.
In cases of vomiting, nausea, or where there is a risk of placental abruption (leading to separation of placenta and uterus), a foot massage should be undertaken only if your doctor agrees or it should be avoided altogether.
Also known as deep vein thrombosis, this is generally a result of a clot formation. Mostly observed in legs, this blood clot occurs in one of the veins located deep within the leg, or even several of them. This causes the legs to swell up quite a lot, accompanied by intense pain. Many women face this only in one leg, making it easy to diagnose it.
In such a case, a foot massage can be life-threatening. This is because any pressure on the veins could cause the blood clot to loosen from the vein walls and begin to travel through the circulatory system. On reaching the lungs, this clot could block the flow of blood and lead to various complications, including an embolism.
3. Pitting Oedema
Swelling that occurs during pregnancy is also known as oedema. This swelling is not out of the ordinary since it is usually a result of an increase in the size of the uterus as well as hormonal changes. Both of these begin to affect the veins and obstruct normal blood circulation. This is why a massage brings relief since it aids the circulation by reducing the swelling.
But, if the swelling tends to disappear temporarily when pressure is applied, this is usually a sign of pitting oedema. This needs to be examined by the doctor immediately as it could signify the presence of DVT or preeclampsia.
Areas That Should Be Avoided While Performing the Massage
There are three major areas of the foot that need to be avoided while giving a foot massage to a pregnant woman.
SP6 Acupressure Point: Located on the inner ankle area above the inner ankle bone, this pressure point stimulates the lower abdomen, which may not be beneficial for a pregnant woman.
Urinary Bladder 60: Located behind the ankle bone on the outside, between the Achilles tendon and the main bone, this point is used primarily during labour to provide relief from pain. Therefore, take extra precaution to stay away from it.
Urinary Bladder 67: Located on the baby toe’s corner near the toenail, it is a popular acupressure point to stimulate contractions and get the baby in the position for delivery.
Foot massage is quite a wonderful way to get the necessary relaxation you need during pregnancy. Opting for a reflexology foot massage while pregnant can also be done, ensuring the areas of risk are avoided and light pressure is used. A regular foot massage can help maintain a good mental and physical balance and relieve the stress of pregnancy, keeping you and your baby happy.
Also Read: Perineal Massage during Pregnancy