Is Foot Massage Safe During Pregnancy? Benefits and Risks Explained

Massage during pregnancy is a great way to relieve aches and pains, reduce stress, and promote overall wellness.

But is foot massage safe when you’re expecting? What are the benefits and potential risks?

This article will give you the lowdown on prenatal foot massage – who should get it, what to expect, and how to stay safe.

Key facts

  • Massage during pregnancy is generally considered safe and provides many benefits, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Foot massage can help relieve common aches and pains, reduce stress, improve sleep, and decrease swelling.
  • Reflexology massage should be avoided as some foot points may stimulate the uterus.
  • Deep tissue massage also carries risks, so stick to light Swedish techniques.
  • Be sure your massage therapist is specially trained in prenatal massage .

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably noticed some new aches and pains, especially in your back and feet. This is due to extra weight gain, posture changes, and increased fluid retention.

baby in the womb - illustration

A foot massage can provide sweet relief! But you also want to make sure any massage is risk-free for you and baby.

Here’s what to know about the safety, benefits, techniques, and risks of foot rubs during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health practices. We are not responsible for any harm or injury resulting from the application of techniques described in this article.

Is Foot Massage Safe in Pregnancy?

In general, prenatal massage is considered very safe and provides many benefits. Massage therapy has been practiced for thousands of years and is a staple of prenatal care in many cultures.

Most experts agree foot massage during pregnancy is safe, with a few caveats.

pregnant woman - illustration

Here are some key points about safety:

  • Massage is safest during the second and third trimesters. The first trimester is more delicate, so consult your doctor first.
  • Stick to gentle Swedish massage techniques, rather than deep tissue. Deep pressure can trigger contractions.
  • Avoid putting pressure on certain reflexology points that may stimulate uterus contractions or trigger labor.
  • Make sure your massage therapist is trained in prenatal massage. They will know which areas and techniques to avoid.
  • Drink plenty of water after a massage to stay hydrated and flush out toxins.

Overall, massage during pregnancy is very low-risk and provides many benefits.

Just be sure to see a professional therapist and avoid deep tissue techniques or acupressure points that could induce labor(!)

What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Foot Massage?

There are so many great reasons to get a foot massage when you’re expecting!

Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Relieves aches and pains. Massage can help ease sore spots and muscle tension caused by pregnancy hormones, weight gain, and posture shifts. Focusing on the feet and ankles provides particular relief for common swelling and inflammation.
  • Reduces stress. Massage lowers stress hormone levels and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This promotes relaxation and contentment – so needed during pregnancy!
  • Lowers anxiety and depression. Studies show pregnant women who received massage therapy had decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Therapeutic touch is soothing.
  • Improves sleep. The relaxation induced by massage promotes higher quality sleep. Lack of sleep during pregnancy increases risks of preeclampsia, depression, and complications.
  • Eases headaches. Massage helps relieve headaches and migraines associated with pregnancy hormones and stress. Reflexology foot massage in particular may alleviate head pain.
  • Reduces swelling. Gentle foot and ankle massage encourages healthy circulation and lymph drainage to reduce common swelling and inflammation during pregnancy.

The soothing touch of a prenatal massage provides comfort, pain relief, and therapeutic benefits for mind and body.

Focusing on the feet accesses key pressure points to address common aches and pains.

The Soothing Benefits of Foot Massage During Pregnancy

Massage provides many benefits for pregnant women. Here are some of the top reasons to get a relaxing foot massage during pregnancy:

Benefits for Pregnant Women

  • Reduces Pain During Pregnancy – Massage therapy can help relieve common aches and pains in parts of your body like your back and feet.
  • Lowers Stress Hormone Levels – Massage here is said to lower stress hormone levels and promote relaxation.
  • Improves Sleep – Getting a good foot massage promotes quality sleep, which is important during pregnancy.
  • Eases Headaches – Massage therapy can help relieve pregnancy-related headaches and migraines.

Focusing on Your Feet During Pregnancy

  • Relieves Swelling in Ankles During Pregnancy – Foot massage improves circulation to help reduce swelling in the ankles and feet.
  • Addresses Heel Pain – Massage techniques can help relieve inflammation and heel pain.
  • Alleviates Leg Cramps – Slow strokes along the calf muscles during massage can ease leg cramps.
  • Improves Circulation – Massage boosts healthy blood flow to the feet and legs.
foot massage - illustration

Points to Avoid During Foot Massage

  • Outer Foot Area – Avoid massaging the outer foot area which may irritate the uterus.
  • Between the Toes – Do not massage between the toes as this could trigger contractions.
  • Lower Legs – Steer clear of massaging the lower legs which can stimulate labor.
  • Ankles – Use care when massaging the ankles and avoid direct pressure on the ankle bones.

Types of Foot Massage

Tips for Foot Massage During Pregnancy: Checklist

  • Focus on feet, ankles and calves
  • Use light to medium pressure
  • Avoid massaging right over ankle bones
  • Hydrate before and after
  • Get massage from a qualified prenatal therapist

As you can see, foot massage is generally safe during pregnancy and offers many benefits for expectant mothers.

But be sure to avoid certain reflexology points and use proper massage technique. 

A relaxing foot rub can help relieve common pregnancy pains and promote overall wellness.

What Techniques Are Used in Prenatal Foot Massage?

There are many massage techniques that are safe and effective during pregnancy:

  • Swedish massage promotes relaxation through long, flowing strokes, kneading, and gentle stretching. This light pressure massage is very safe for pregnant women.
  • Reflexology applies pressure to reflex points on the feet that correspond to different glands, organs and body systems. Properly stimulating these points relaxes the associated area. However some reflexology points can stimulate the uterus – so use with caution!
  • Sports massage uses gentle, stimulating techniques to increase circulation and mobility. This can help with common muscle tightness during pregnancy.
  • Aromatherapy massage uses essential plant oils known to be safe during pregnancy. The soothing scents enhance relaxation.

Some key tips for a prenatal foot massage:

  • Use light to medium pressure
  • Focus on feet, ankles and calves – avoid massage on the back and legs
  • Avoid massaging right over the ankle bone
  • Use pregnancy-safe oils like coconut, almond or jojoba
  • Hydrate well before and after massage

An expert massage therapist will provide a safe, therapeutic massage tailored to your needs and stages of pregnancy. The right techniques can provide huge relief for common aches and pains.

What Areas Should Be Avoided During Prenatal Foot Massage?

While foot massage is generally very safe during pregnancy, there are a few areas to steer clear of:

  • Ankles. Avoid direct pressure over the inner and outer ankle bones. This area contains acupressure points that can stimulate the uterus.
  • Between toes. Massaging between the toes could trigger contractions.
  • Lower legs. Lower legs contain acupressure points that can induce labor, so avoid massaging this area.
  • Back and hips. Massage increases circulation, which you want to avoid in the lower body during pregnancy. It’s safest to stick to lower legs and feet.
  • Prone positions. Avoid lying flat on your stomach after the first trimester. Stick to side-lying or semi-reclined positions.
  • Deep pressure. Very firm massage or deep tissue work can increase contractions or trigger preterm labor. Stick to gentle pressure.

With the right modifications, you can safely enjoy all the benefits of foot massage when pregnant!

What Are the Risks of Foot Massage During Pregnancy?

Most experts agree prenatal foot massage is safe as long as proper precautions are taken.

However, there are some potential risks:

  • Putting pressure on acupressure points linked to the uterus could theoretically trigger contractions or preterm labor. Avoiding these areas minimizes any risk.
  • Lying flat on the belly, especially after the first trimester, can decrease oxygen flow to the baby. Opt for side-lying positions only.
  • Very deep tissue massage releases toxins into the bloodstream quickly. Drink lots of water before and after massage to flush toxins and prevent dehydration.
  • Untrained massage therapists may unknowingly use unsafe positioning or techniques. Verify they have received specialized prenatal massage training.

While foot massage risks are very small, it’s always smart to consult your OB-GYN, especially during the first trimester.

They can advise you based on your specific health history. In general, massage with an expert therapist using proper prenatal modifications is extremely safe and beneficial.

How Massage Helps Relieve Common Pregnancy Pains

Massage may be particularly helpful for treating lower back pain, which many pregnant women experience as the belly grows. The added weight shifts the pelvis and center of gravity, putting strain on the lower back muscles. Gentle massage techniques can help relax the tense muscles and reduce inflammation.

Massage also appears beneficial for relieving leg cramps, which are very common during pregnancy. Stimulating circulation through massage increases blood flow to the extremities. Slow, relaxing strokes along the calf muscles can help ease cramping and spasms.

Targeting Reflexology Points Without Stimulating Labor

Reflexology uses pressure points in the foot that correspond to other body parts and systems.

Massaging certain points is thought to stimulate organs and relieve congestion. 

reflexology points of the feet - diagram

However, some reflexology foot points are linked to uterine function and should be avoided during pregnancy.

The outer foot area corresponds to the pelvic region. Massaging here could irritate the uterus.

It’s safest to focus on relaxing foot techniques rather than precision reflexology points. Gentle foot and calf massage will still help reduce swelling and improve circulation.

Ideal Positions for Prenatal Foot Massage

Lying on your back is not recommended during pregnancy, particularly after the first trimester. So foot massages are best done in a side-lying or semi-reclined position.

If possible, prop yourself up at a 45 degree incline with pillows under your head, shoulders and belly for support. This takes pressure off your lower back. You can also lay on your side with a pillow between your legs and under your belly. Pay attention to any numbness or tingling – your therapist can adjust supports.

Continuing Foot Massage After Birth

Many women find foot massage helpful even after giving birth. Postnatal massage can promote healing, relaxation and restoration.

massage after birth - illustration

However, certain precautions should be taken during at least the first 6 weeks after delivery:

Your massage therapist should avoid certain pressure points that may stimulate uterine contractions to allow the uterus to return to normal size.

They should also use gentle pressure and surface-level techniques until any trauma from birth has fully healed.

Postnatal massage supports recovery, relaxation and renewal after the strenuous work of labor and delivery. But the early postpartum weeks still require some modifications and care. 

How to Choose a Prenatal Massage Therapist

To safely enjoy a foot massage during pregnancy, choose a therapist with these qualifications:

  • Specialized training in prenatal massage techniques and safety protocols
  • Licensed massage therapist with several years experience
  • Comfortable modifying positions and pressure for pregnancy
  • Uses pregnancy-safe oils and aromatherapy options
  • Focuses only on lower legs and feet area during pregnancy
  • Collaborates with clients’ healthcare providers if needed
  • Provides a relaxing, soothing environment

The American Pregnancy Association provides lists of well-qualified prenatal massage therapists in many areas.

Your OB-GYN may also have trusted therapists to recommend. Investing in an expert therapist ensures you can relax and benefit from massage without worrying about safety.

Foot Massage During Pregnancy: The Bottom Line

Foot massage during pregnancy provides incredible therapeutic benefits and much-needed pain relief with minimal risks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Massage therapy is generally safe during pregnancy and provides many benefits, as long as proper technique is used.
  • Focus massage on the feet, ankles and calves only – avoid the back and lower legs.
  • Light Swedish massage is safest – avoid deep tissue or intense pressure.
  • Hydrate well before and after massage to prevent detoxification issues.
  • Avoid reflexology points on feet that may stimulate the uterus.
  • Opt for side-lying positions – avoid lying flat on your belly.
  • Have an expert prenatal massage therapist perform the massage for best results and safety.

The key is choosing an experienced massage therapist trained in appropriate prenatal techniques. They will know how to safely work on swollen feet, ankles, and calves without stimulating pressure points linked to the uterus.

A prenatal foot massage can reduce pain, swelling, headaches, stress, and anxiety – all common during pregnancy.

Plus, it just feels heavenly! With your doctor’s approval, pregnancy massage is a smart addition to your self-care routine.

Just be sure to hydrate well, avoid deep pressure, and steer clear of reflexology points that may stimulate contractions.

With these precautions, expectant mothers can safely enjoy all the beauty of massage. Say hello to happy feet!


  1. Healthline: Foot Massage During Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits, Risks, and Tips – This article provides a comprehensive overview of the safety, benefits, risks, and tips for foot massage during pregnancy.
  2. Healthline: Where Not to Massage a Pregnant Woman: Areas to Avoid – This source provides information on areas to avoid while massaging a pregnant woman.
  3. MomJunction: Foot Massage In Pregnancy: Is It Safe, Benefits And Risks – This article discusses the safety, benefits, and risks of foot massage during pregnancy.
  4. Cleveland Clinic: Should You Get A Massage While Pregnant? – This source from the Cleveland Clinic discusses the safety and benefits of massage, including foot massage, during pregnancy.
  5. American Pregnancy Association: Prenatal Massage – This article from the American Pregnancy Association discusses the benefits of prenatal massage, including the reduction of swelling.
  6. Verywell Health: Pregnancy Massage: Benefits, Risks, and Safety – This source provides a comprehensive overview of the benefits, risks, and safety considerations of pregnancy massage.

Q: Is it safe to get a foot massage while pregnant?

A: Yes, it is generally safe to get a foot massage while pregnant. However, it is important to make sure the massage is done by a trained and experienced massage therapist who is familiar with the specific needs of pregnant women.

Q: What are the benefits of foot massage during pregnancy?

A: Foot massage during pregnancy can provide several benefits. It can help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles, relieve aches and pains, promote relaxation, improve circulation, and alleviate symptoms of pregnancy-related conditions such as edema and leg cramps.

Q: Can I massage a pregnant woman’s feet?

A: If you are trained in pregnancy massage techniques, you can safely massage a pregnant woman’s feet. However, it is advisable to seek proper training and certification to ensure you are aware of the specific precautions and techniques to follow when massaging a pregnant woman.

Q: Are there any risks involved in getting a foot massage while pregnant?

A: While foot massage is generally considered safe during pregnancy, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. Avoid deep massage or applying excessive pressure on certain acupressure points that are believed to stimulate contractions. It is also important to communicate any discomfort or pain during the massage to the therapist.

Q: What parts of the foot should be avoided during a foot massage while pregnant?

A: During a foot massage while pregnant, it is best to avoid applying pressure to certain acupressure points that are believed to trigger contractions or stimulate the reproductive organs. These points include the bottom of the foot, the inside and outside of the leg, and the top of the foot.

Q: Can I use massage oil during a foot massage while pregnant?

A: It is generally safe to use massage oil during a foot massage while pregnant. However, it is important to choose a oil that is free from harmful chemicals and is safe for use during pregnancy. It is also advisable to perform a patch test to check for any possible allergic reactions.

Q: How often can I get a foot massage during pregnancy?

A: The frequency of foot massages during pregnancy can vary depending on your individual needs and preferences. It is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified massage therapist to determine the appropriate frequency based on your specific circumstances.

Q: Can I give myself a foot massage during pregnancy?

A: Yes, you can give yourself a foot massage during pregnancy. However, it is important to learn proper techniques and precautions to ensure a safe and effective massage. You can also seek guidance from a trained professional to learn self-massage techniques specifically designed for pregnant women.

Q: Are there any certain points on the feet that are particularly beneficial for pregnant women?

A: Yes, there are certain acupressure points on the feet that are believed to be beneficial for pregnant women. Massaging the ankles in the hollow areas, for example, is thought to help relieve swelling and improve circulation. However, it is recommended to consult with a trained professional to ensure safe and effective application of pressure on these points.

Q: Is it safe to get a foot massage at a nail salon during pregnancy?

A: It is generally safe to get a foot massage at a nail salon during pregnancy, but it is important to choose a reputable salon that adheres to proper hygiene and safety standards. Make sure the massage is performed by a trained professional with experience in providing foot massage to pregnant women.