Swelling, or edema, during pregnancy is normal but can leave the expectant mother feeling uncomfortable. In new research, foot massage has been found to decrease lower-leg edema.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, “During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood and fluid. Normal swelling, which is also called edema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet.”

Turkish researchers randomly divided 80 pregnant women into two groups: A study group that received a 20-minute foot massage daily for five days, and a control group that did not receive any intervention beyond standard prenatal care.

“Compared with the control group, women in the experimental group had a significantly smaller lower leg circumference (right and left, ankle, instep and metatarsal-phalanges joint) after five days of massage,” according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov. “The results obtained from our research show that foot massage was found to have a positive effect on decreasing normal physiological lower leg [edema] in late pregnancy,”

The results of “Effect of foot massage to decrease physiological lower leg oedema in late pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial in Turkey” are running in the International Journal of Nursing Practice (Int J Nurs Pract. 2010 Oct;16(5):454-60).

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