A pregnancy that lasts 37 weeks is considered full term, but many pregnant women are ready to stop being pregnant and give birth already by about week 17. When the final days of the third trimester finally roll around (and especially the days that mark an extended third trimester), some moms-to-be are willing to try anything to induce labor naturally.
And who could blame them? By this point in the pregnancy, it's practically impossible to even sit down or stand up without a major act of will. Each day past the due date can make an expectant woman suspect that the life growing inside of her may in fact stay there forever.
When it comes to pregnancy and labor, there have always been tales of ways for women to induce labor: warm baths, spicy food, sex, nipple stimulation, enemas. Although there is very little scientific data to back any of these up, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence from women who have induced labor using such tactics. These beliefs go back as far as pregnancy does, with similar claims of support and naysaying for each of them.
We'll look at another purported method to induce labor: pedicures. Some women swear that their late-term pedicure prompted labor, while others had no such luck. So what's the real deal?
Inducing Labor with Reflexology?
As is generally the case with many labor-inducing home remedies, there's not a lot 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. Why would that be the case?
The support for pedicures as an inducer of labor coincides closely with another labor-inducing folk remedy: foot massages.
Supporters claim foot massages (or stimulation via pedicure) induce labor by stimulating certain pressure points around the foot and ankle. Manipulation (even unintentional) of these pressure points, the reasoning goes, causes the uterus to begin contracting. This is more or less based on the principles of reflexology that maintain that pressure points on the feet, hands and ears correspond to every other part of the body. Reflexologists believe that manipulating these pressure points clears up "blockages" in the body's energy field.
There isn't much evidence to back up these claims, but that hasn't stopped reflexology practitioners from treating clients -- nor has it stopped some clients from feeling much better after their energy field has been foot-rubbed into compliance.
Other women who believe pedicures (or foot massages) work as a means of inducing labor don't claim a specific reason why it works, only that it does. If you were carrying a life-form inside you for nine months, you might not be interested in specifics either, only results.
Thinking about getting your toes done? Any beauty treatment or procedure involving chemicals, fumes or massage should be OK'd by your doctor beforehand, just to be safe. If you do get a pedicure (or manicure) while pregnant, take some precautions. Make sure the salon's health inspection scores are high, and bring your own nail files and other tools (such as cuticle clippers). This will limit the risk of infections, especially if you get nicked. Don't bother if there's a strong chemical smell in the salon -- go somewhere with good ventilation, as those fumes aren't good for you or the baby.
Will getting a pedicure induce labor? Probably not. Do pregnant women need excuses to get pedicures? Absolutely not.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Aetna InteliHealth. "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." (May 1, 2010)http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/8513/34968/360060.html?d=dmtContent
- Greenfield, Marjorie, M.D. "Is it Safe? Health and beauty treatments." July 27, 2004. (May 1, 2010)http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,23484,00.html
- Leary, Rebecca. "Massage during pregnancy: luxury or part of a holistic prenatal care program?" New Life Journal. Dec., 2003.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KWZ/is_3_5/ai_112246365/
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Pregnancy week by week." Mar. 19, 2009. (May 1, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-week-by-week/MY00331
- Midwifery Today. "Methods of Inducing Labor, Part 1." Dec. 3, 1999.http://www.naturalchildbirth.org/natural/resources/interventions/interventions15.htm