You are currently viewing Benefits of Foot Massage During Pregnancy and Safety Tips

During the third trimester of pregnancy, it is normal for women to feel like they’re getting bigger and that their body is swelling up, including their feet. Plump toes, achy feet, and thicker ankles are common in such cases. The idea of having a nice foot massage during pregnancy sounds quite tempting, but you may not know whether it would be a good idea or not and what is the safety of it, risks, and benefits.

When is foot massage avoided during pregnancy?

Since every woman’s pregnancy is different, we can’t judge whether a foot massage during pregnancy is safe. One should consult their doctor before getting any foot massage. For example, a person with a history of blood clots must have a proper consultation. Other circumstances may include blood flow changes and swollen red spots on the lower legs.

A registered reflexologist or a registered massage therapist is a good option and better if they have experience in prenatal massage.  This way, one would worry less and enjoy a period of relaxation. Home massages are not a bad option either. However, if one feels discomfort, they may stop it.

Benefits of foot massage in pregnancy

A good foot massage during pregnancy has many potential benefits, which bring positive outcomes. Some of the many ways to reduce fluid in swollen areas and decrease in muscle tension in the lower region. The rest are as follows:

Improved labor duration:

Many studies showed that women who got feet massage resulted in a shorter duration of labor in all stages, the duration had a difference of about 3 hours on average and required less medication for pain.

Decreased anxiety and depression:

A study conducted in 2020 shows that women receiving foot massages showed decreased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Another study showed that women that had their feet massaged for as less as 20 minutes for a week showed less anxiety and depression, too, along with lesser back and pelvic pains, which is common among most pregnant women. This also resulted in decreased normal physiological edema. American Pregnancy Association also confirms that prenatal massage is beneficial.

Stress levels:

Our bodies contain stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. The levels of these stress hormones are decreased by foot massages and induce relaxing hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, which copes with stress and depression. This promotes the feeling of relaxation and warmth; however, the job should be spared for professionals as they would have good knowledge about the correct acupressure points.

Sleep quality:

The mother’s sleep quality is improved significantly with decreased stress levels. Lesser back and pelvic pain are the contributing factors.

Neonatal benefits:

Mothers who received massages gave birth to calmer babies due to the lower cortisol levels. The neonates had lower birth weights and comparatively were less likely to be born prematurely.


As a result of the lower cortisol levels, the massaged mothers showed better results with depression and anxiety, contributing to the benefits of foot massage in pregnancy.

How do we know that these massages play a role in carrying out these benefits? Our 10th cranial nerve is the longest, also known as the Vagus nerve. When massaged, its activity increases, bringing about a change in blood flow in the brain areas that deal with blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression.

What areas should not be massaged during pregnancy?

To know the risks, we must know what acupressure is. Acupressure is a practice alternative to therapeutic techniques which releases the flow of energy channels. Thus, acupressure points are areas on the body that may induce pain or exert other effects upon manipulation. In foot massage, the acupressurist must know about acupressure points in pregnancy. Some acupressure points may lead to the induction of labor.

SP6 acupressure point:

The SP6 acupressure point does not have any evidence. However, it causes stimulation in the lower abdomen, which may cause uterine contractions. The point is three fingers width above the inner ankle bone, on the inner ankle.

Urinary bladder 60:

This is contraindicated during pregnancy and is also known as BL60 kunlun. It lies between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon. The reason that it is contraindicated is that it increases blood flow, causing induction of labor. However, it is used for pain relief during labor.

Urinary bladder 67:

Massage at this point helps position the fetus during labor but is contraindicated throughout pregnancy as it induces contractions. It lies on the lateral side of the small toe, near the toenail and is also called as the BL67 zhiyin. There are not much evidence for such cases; however, the risk lies and hence not advised.

Can foot massage cause miscarriage?

  • The first trimester:

Foot massages are generally contraindicated during the first trimester as it has a higher risk of miscarriages due to the increased blood flow.

  • DVT (Deep vein thrombosis):

In cases of even mild DVT, the massages may prove fatal by releasing the thrombi in normal blood circulation.

  • Recent Surgeries:

Pregnant women who recently had surgeries shall consult their OB-GYN before having any foot massages.

  • Labor induction:

Some acupressure points may cause induction of labor, such as the BL60 Kunlun. Hence the job must be done by a professional.

Tips for a foot massage while pregnancy

  • Use Oils or lotions for easy gliding over the skin and a frictionless effect.
  • Go for an experienced acupressurist or massage therapist with experience in prenatal massage.
  • Stay hydrated and have plenty of water before and after the massage.
  • Lie in a sitting position and keep your feet elevated.
  • The application of gentle strokes side to side helps.
  • Avoid massages in the lower extremities in cases of a history of blood clots or swollenness in the foot region.


When getting a massage during pregnancy, one should be aware of its pros and cons and the risks involved. Every woman’s pregnancy is not the same, and thus should consult their doctors. Always go for professionals or experienced acupressurists who know the acupressure points. A few points should be avoided that may cause uterine contractions.

The benefits of foot massage during pregnancy are more and cause no essential health risks. Generally, the activity produces positive outcomes. The main benefit is lowering cortisol, which benefits both the mother and the baby. The activity serves right when the manipulation is performed in the correct manner. Reduced labor duration, pain relief, a calm baby, and everything is well sorted.  

Leave a Reply