Whatever you think of your feet, they are incredible pieces of natural engineering which allow us to stand upright, walk and balance.
During pregnancy our body’s weight and centre of gravity gradually changes as our babies grow and this has an impact on the curves of our spine and on our feet! By loving our feet with warmth, exercise and massage we can support our whole body as it adapts to pregnancy and beyond.
Warm Feet, Warm Heart
It is pretty much impossible to relax with cold feet. Physiological relaxation is important during pregnancy because while in this state all of our bodies systems are supported in doing their jobs – digestion, elimination, circulation, respiration, immunity and of course the reproductive system is at its very busiest!
When we relax we produce more of the hormone oxytocin which is famous as the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone. It helps us feel heart-warmed, safe and loving and is key in the process of initiating and maintaining labour.
One of my favourite feet facts comes from a book called The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. In this book the author explains how hormones affect us over the course of our live but specifically she explains how it is simply not possible to have an orgasm with cold feet – good to know!
We can keep our feet nice and warm by regularly enjoying a foot bath (put warm water in a washing up bowl) and investing in a pair of cosy socks. Avoid going barefoot on cold floors for extended periods of time.
The arches of our feet are like the arches of a cathedral – integral to the structure and design of the whole. Our arches need to be strong but also flexible to support the weight of the legs, hips and upper body.
These exercises can be done seated or standing.
- Feel the contact between your feet and the floor.
- Press your big toes down and see if you can pick up the other four toes. Don’t worry if nothing much happens, but notice the sensation in the arch of your foot.
- Now press the four smaller toes of each foot into the floor and lift just your big toes.
- Finally, see if you can keep your little toes and your big toes down but lift the three middle toes. Again, don’t worry if nothing happens – the idea is usually enough to get those arches responding! If you can reach, bend down and give your toes a little help with your hands.
This step is only for those who enjoy touching their feet or having them touched – if you don’t then it won’t be relaxing!
The skin on the arches of the feet should be soft as this part of our foot never touches the floor. It is a good place to apply nurturing essential oils such as lavender or rose – do check any other massage oils you use are suitable during pregnancy.
To massage your own feet you can try sitting in baddha konasana (bound angle pose). Sit on the floor and bring your two feet together. Lean forward and press your thumbs into the arches of your feet. If you are unable to reach easily try sitting up on two or three pillows or a yoga block.
Asking someone else to bring you a warm foot bath and then massage your feet is also a perfectly reasonable request in late pregnancy when your feet may feel very far away!
Finally, a little reminder of the magical geometry that means the diamond you create with your thumbs and forefingers fit perfectly around your throat, over your pelvic diamond AND over the arches of your feet, creating a very evocative image!
This foot ritual is the perfect way to spend some time in early labour.
- love your feet,
- relax your jaw
- soften your floor
- and breathe…