Foot Massage During Pregnancy

People have been using therapeutic foot massage for centuries to aid stress reduction, relieve muscle tension, and improve general health.

Foot massage during pregnancy has been controvertial among health practitioners regarding its effects and overall safety.

Foot Clip Art
However, research suggests that prenatal massage therapy is worth considering – but with caution.

Pregnancy leads to many changes in the body, including swelling of the legs and feet. Foot massage can alleviate the swelling and relieve aching feet. But what are the benefits and risks?

About Foot Massage

Foot massage goes back to ancient times, with claims about its powerful impact on the human body going back to ancient Egypt. The feet and hands are the primary organs linked to the nervous system, and the feet, especially, are directly related to the uterus.

It is widely believed that massaging the feet at specific pressure points can induce pre-term labor.

Therapists are trained to watch out for the pressure points. There are many pro-foot massage websites for pregnant women.

Some claim that labor can be triggered by performing foot massage, but these claims have no scientific backing.

Some health professionals disagree that foot massage can induce b  labor. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which represents more than 52,000 members, does not recognize foot massage in any of its journals, websites, or articles. Just who is right?

Whatever the truth is, the consensus is that foot massage on a pregnant woman in her first trimester is not safe.
Foot Massage During Pregnancy

Benefits of a Foot Massage During Pregnancy

There are many benefits linked to a foot massage in pregnant women, beyond the physical. Despite some health professionals’ skepticism, research indicates that specific brain chemistry is activated by massaging the feet. Foot massage is said to release a tiny amount of oxytocin

Oxytocin is a natural chemical that contracts the uterus, while also increasing the sense of positive attachment and mediating emotional experiences.


Swelling of joints is common in pregnancy. It is mostly caused by reduced blood circulation and an increase in pressure by the now bulky uterus.

Severe nerve pain is also common because the uterus tends to lie on the lower back. This cancauses tension in the lower and upper legs, making them swell.

The swelling and nerve pain can be reduced by a foot massage done carried out by a trained therapist.


Foot massage helps first-time mothers to fight anxiety and depression. This helps in giving her peace of mind and restorate her mental health

Traditional Foot Massage vs. a Foot Massager 

Foot Massager During Pregnancy

Use of a Foot Massager During Pregnancy

While there is a lot of skepticism about foot massages and pre-term labor, we can say that a conventional foot massage is likely to give you the best results. A foot massager, however, is more convenient. As with everything else, you are warned to be moderate. 

A major benefit is that a foot massager is portabe. The convenience of having a massage when you need to without having to make an appointment with a therapist is also a big advantage.

Pregnant women should not use some massagers, particularly those with Shiatsu massage. Shiatsu massage concentrates on the pressure points that are said to trigger pre-term labor. When choosing a foot massager, select one with mild vibrations.

The best foot massagers (if you are pregnant) are manual ones, such as the wooden foot roller, which you manually roll your foot over, or a rolling foot walker, on which you press your foot over the tiny bumps

Risks Associated With Foot Massages

There are times when a foot massage is not the solution. In fact, it coule end up doing more harm than good. Examples include:

Pitting Edema

Edema, or swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles, in pregnancy is normal. Edema is caused by the expanding uterus, which puts a lot of pressure on the veins and restricts the circulation of blood to the heart.

An often recommended solution is a lymphatic drainage massage, which can help to reduce swelling during pregnancy and after birth. Pitting edema,however, can be known to leave indentations on the skin when pressure is applied.

In these cases, it is essential a physician checks for any underlying conditions that may be fatal

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT can turn deadly. When a blood clot forms in the deep veins in the legs, the legs swell. When accompanied by pain in one leg, it is usually a warning of DVT. In these cases, a foot massage could trigger the clot to dislodge and travel to the lungs, blocking blood flow and causing a condition called embolism


If your limbs suddenly swell, it is likely your blood pressure is very high. This is one of the most common signs of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia happens in the last trimester.

It is often preceded by extreme weight gain, a sudden spike in blood pressure, severe headaches, visual issues, and general edema. This may cause convulsions or death if not immediately attended to.

If you experience nausea or your pregnancy is considered high risk, avoid a massage. Talk to your physician to gauge how safe massage it is, and have him/her rule out any conditions that may be dangerous to your health.

Conclusion: A Word from the Wellness Council

Since there is conflicting information about massage during pregnancy, read widely and take expert advice on the possible effects of foot massages. Check the good, the bad, and the ongoing research.

Talk to your physician and only go ahead once you have ruled out DVT, pitting edema, or preeclampsia.

If you experience any of the conditions mentioned above, a massage will have to take a back seat while you concentrate on managing your condition with your physician's help and taking the prescribed medicine.