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Quick Tips: Pedicures and Labor

        Health | Labor & Delivery

During the final weeks and days of the third trimester, most pregnant women are willing to try just about anything to get the baby out of their belly. By this point in the pregnancy, every single movement takes an unusual amount of effort. Each day past the due date can make any expectant mom suspect her child will never leave the womb.

There's no shortage of old wives' tales on how women can induce labor including hot baths, sex, and even enemas. Though science doesn't back up these widespread speculations, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence from women who believe there are things you can do to speed by the delivery process. These beliefs have been around for centuries with similar claims of support and suspicion for every single one of them.

Add to that list another reported method to induce labor: pedicures. Some women swear a trip to the salon led to contractions, while others found themselves with only freshly buffed feet. As is generally the case with many labor-inducing home remedies, there's not much in the way of scientific proof to support or refute the efficacy of pedicures. But plenty of mothers claim it was a pedicure that jump-started the birthing process.

The support for pedicures as a labor inducer coincides closely with another folk remedy: foot massages. The principles of reflexology stipulate that pressure points at certain points in the body correspond to other parts of the body. Proponents claim foot massages, or reflexology, can speed up delivery by rousing certain pressure points around the foot and ankle that, in turn, stimulate the uterus, which then begins contracting.

Research supporting these claims is thin, but that hasn't discontinued reflexology practitioners from courting clients. And some clients report feeling better and more balanced post-foot massage.

Pregnant women who have gone into labor shortly after a salon visit can't explain why they had contractions -- they are more concerned with their resulting child than research. However, some women who have yet to carry to term are fearful that pedicures (including massage) could trigger premature contractions.

No chance, says Dwight Byers, director of the International Institute of Reflexology. Byers states emphatically that massage itself cannot stimulate the uterine and ovarian reflexology zones. Byers and Christopher Shirley, director of the Pacific Institute of Reflexology, describe reflexology as improving blood supply to the cells of the organs in corresponding areas of the body. Stimulation of the pelvic reflex areas around the ankles produces relaxation and stress reduction and can be offered safely throughout pregnancy. Rather than risky, the effects of reflexology to the ankles may actually reduce the occurrence of miscarriage by helping nurture a healthy maternal environment and supporting the developing fetus [source: Stager].

Considering a pedicure? Check with your doctor before getting pampered. Beauty treatment can potentially expose you to chemicals, fumes or unsafe conditions. If you visit the spa with a baby on board, be proactive. Check the health inspection scores of the spa you're visiting, inspect for dust and sanitary practices when you arrive, and, if you're still scare, carry your own nail files and clippers to minimize the risk of contamination. If you notice a certain eau de chemical when you arrive, head for the door. Those fumes aren't good for you or the baby.

Will getting a pedicure send you into labor? It's doubtful. But that doesn't mean you should skip the salon.