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If there is ever a time a woman wants a massage the most, it is during pregnancy. Growing a baby puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause lots of aches and pains.
A large baby bump can cause lower back pain and cause the legs and hips to feel sore, especially if you have been on your feet all day. Speaking of feet, a foot massage during pregnancy can sound like complete bliss – but is it safe?
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In this article, we discuss whether you can get a foot massage while pregnant and also where not to massage a pregnant woman. When done safely, a pregnancy massage can be a wonderful treat for a mom-to-be.
Table of Contents
Is Massage Safe During Pregnancy?
Having a massage is a great way to reduce stress and relieve aches and pains in the body. Massage during pregnancy can be safe when done correctly.
It is important to know that massaging a pregnant woman is not the same as massaging someone who is not expecting a baby.
If you would like to have a massage while you are pregnant, there are some important facts and safety precautions you need to know beforehand:
Avoid massage during the first trimester
Having a massage during the first trimester can make women feel dizzy and nauseous.
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy are usually when morning sickness is at its worst and you don’t want to do anything to increase the feelings of nausea and lightheadedness.
A gentle neck rub can help to relieve any stress and anxiety but a full body massage may make you feel unwell. There is also concern that massage during the first trimester can cause a miscarriage, although there is little scientific research to support this.
Certain pressure points will need to be avoided
There are acupressure points all over the body and some must not be massaged during pregnancy. It is thought that massaging certain acupressure points could cause miscarriage or cause contractions, resulting in preterm labor.
The position is important
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Pregnant women should not be massaged whilst laying on their back or stomach.
Resting in the typical ‘massage position’ is not suitable for women during pregnancy as this can be extremely uncomfortable and it is not recommended pregnant women lay on their stomachs.
Also, lying down on your back is not advised after 20 weeks of pregnancy as this can put pressure on blood vessels which can reduce blood flow and cause blood pressure to drop.
This can be dangerous for moms and can restrict blood flow to the uterus, putting your baby at risk. It is best to massage a pregnant woman while she is laying on her side or slightly reclined back in a chair.
Choose a professional masseuse
To ensure you are getting the safest massage possible during your pregnancy, find a professional masseuse who has been specifically trained in prenatal massage.
Someone who is trained to massage pregnant women will know what places to avoid massaging and will know what acupressure points should be avoided.
A masseuse trained in prenatal massage will be able to safely direct you into the most comfortable position for your massage, whilst ensuring your blood pressure and blood flow to your uterus is not jeopardized.
Inform your doctor
It is always wise to inform your doctor if you are planning a massage during your pregnancy.
Your doctor will be able to inform you of all the risks and benefits of massage during pregnancy and may even be able to point you in the direction of a trained professional who specializes in prenatal massage.
Can I Get A Foot Massage While Pregnant?
Pregnancy really does a number on our feet. Think about all that extra weight you are carrying around.
Your feet have to carry that heavy load around all day, so it is no wonder by the evening time many pregnant women are begging their partner for a foot massage.
A gentle foot rub can help to ease aches and pains and can also help you to relax and feel less stressed. For the most part, foot massage during pregnancy is safe. You can either ask your partner for one or visit a professional for a more luxurious pamper.
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Whilst you may be used to having a foot massage at the nail salon when going in for a pedicure, it is best to just stick to getting your nails done during pregnancy as nail technicians are rarely also trained as prenatal massage therapists.
The risk of blood clots increases during pregnancy as the blood volume in the body dramatically increases. If your legs are very swollen or you notice hot red patches on your legs or feet you will need to avoid massage and visit your doctor instead.
Massaging the deep tissue of the leg and feet could dislodge a blood clot. If you want a foot rub from your partner, advise them to use gentle pressure and make them aware of the parts of the foot they need to avoid – more on this later.
While a foot massage can have lots of benefits for pregnant women, it is important to know that some evidence suggests there may be a link between foot massages and the risk of miscarriage.
Can Foot Massage Cause Miscarriage?
Remember those acupressure points we briefly mentioned earlier? Well, reflexology shows that there are many acupressure points on and around the foot that are linked to areas of the body you do not want to be disturbed during pregnancy.
The Spleen 6 point is the area on the inner ankle, about 3 fingers width above the inner ankle bone, when pressed it can stimulate the lower abdomen. You definitely don’t want to be interfering with the lower abdomen – the home of your uterus – during pregnancy.
The Urinary Bladder 60 acupressure point is found between the Achilles tendon and the main ankle bone. Massaging here can promote labor, which is fine if you are at your due date but can be risky if are yet to reach full term in your pregnancy.
The Urinary Bladder 67 acupressure point also needs to be avoided whilst giving a pregnant woman a foot massage.
The acupressure point is right next to the toenail of the pinky toe and is thought to bring on contractions and encourage the baby into a prime position for delivery, which is something you definitely don’t want to be happening before you are full term.
With this knowledge of acupressure points in mind, there is concern that foot massage during pregnancy can bring on early labor or cause the uterus to contract, resulting in miscarriage.
There is very little scientific evidence to back this up, nevertheless, it is recommended pregnant women always err on the side of caution when having a foot massage.
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How Do You Massage A Pregnant Woman’s Feet?
If you do not want to visit a massage therapist and want your partner to give you a foot massage instead, that is totally fine.
To make sure your partner is safely massaging your feet, ask them to read this quick guide first before they get the oil out and start blindly rubbing away.
- Apply a generous amount of oil or lotion. It is always best to use a body lotion or massage oil that has been designed to be safe for use during pregnancy. If you are unsure if the lotion you are using is ok for use during pregnancy, check the label or try a quick search online.
- Loosen the ankle first by gently shaking the foot. Remember to avoid the acupressure points mentioned above.
- Hold the foot gently in both hands and apply upward pressure and strokes towards the heart, this will help promote healthy circulation. Be sure to use a lighter pressure as you stroke back down the foot.
- Massage the toes by lightly rubbing them and giving them a gentle tug. You can also massage between the toes, just remember to avoid the acupressure point next to the nail on the pinky toe.
- Squeeze the heels.
- Rub the bottom of the foot. Vary the pressure and stroke technique for a deeper and more relaxing massage.
- Listen to your partner and ask her what feels good. If she is heavily pregnant, her feet are likely to be very tired and sore and maybe even swollen. Use a pressure she is comfortable with and communicates throughout the massage so you know if the foot rub is having the desired effect or not.
Where Not To Massage A Pregnant Woman?
We have now established that you can massage a pregnant woman’s feet. When done safely, a foot massage during pregnancy can be a lovely and relaxing experience for a mom-to-be.
What about a full-body massage during pregnancy? Is it safe to massage all areas of a pregnant woman or are there places to avoid massaging during pregnancy?
Due to the many changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, it is not safe to massage a pregnant woman in the same you would anyone else.
There are several places on the pregnant body that can not be massaged for many reasons. Here is a list of where not to massage a pregnant woman:
Perhaps this is obvious, but you should not massage a pregnant woman’s belly. It is perfectly safe for a woman to apply a body lotion or oil to her belly and stretch marks but a deep tissue massage of the belly should definitely be avoided.
Applying hard pressure or pressing deeply on a pregnant woman’s stomach can be extremely uncomfortable for mom and may also be uncomfortable and hurt her unborn baby.
Applying gentle strokes up and down a pregnant woman’s legs is perfectly safe. However, deep massage and hard pressure can dislodge any blood clots that may have formed in the legs.
Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing blood clots and massage may cause a blood clot to move to more a dangerous part of the body.
We have already discussed the pressure points on and around the foot. However, there are also acupressure points on the wrist and between the fingers that are thought to bring on contractions.
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You will need to avoid these points, especially if the woman is not yet a full term in her pregnancy.
Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is hard work! Moms-to-be go through so much during the nine months of pregnancy and if anyone deserves a massage, it’s a woman growing a baby. When done safely, pregnancy massage has many benefits, including:
- Stress relief
- Reduced anxiety
- Helps ease symptoms of depression
- Pain relief for aching muscles
- Improved sleep
- Reduced fluid build-up and swelling
- Reduced risk of postpartum depression
If you are finding your pregnancy physically and mentally demanding, a pregnancy massage may be just the thing you need to start feeling better.
The Final Thought
Our feet go through a lot during pregnancy and it is no surprise many pregnant women are desperate for a foot massage. It is ok to have a foot massage during pregnancy, you just need to make sure the person performing the massage knows how to do it safely.
In this article, we have shared a guide on how to safely give a foot massage during pregnancy and what areas of the body should be avoided.
Now you have all the knowledge you need, sit back and enjoy your foot massage – you deserve it!