Prenatal Massage

pregnant woman touching her belly


Massage is one of the most ideal natural solutions to relax, relieve pain and discomfort, and help you cope with stress and fatigue during pregnancy.

Massage helps relieve pain in your muscles and joints that must support extra weight and helps increase flexibility, making it easier for your body to adjust to additional weight.

Massage therapy can be an effective form of  natural therapies for management of chronic conditions and prevention of illness. Regularly scheduled massage treatments are particularly essential since many medications that are considered relatively safe or acceptable to control these symptoms and discomforts (such as pain killers, anti-inflammatory, laxatives, sleeping pills) are not recommended (or desirable) during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of massage during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is often a time of great excitement and anticipation. While your baby is nestled in his or her temporary digs for the next nine months, your body goes through a lot of changes. Some of the physical changes, such as thicker hair, may be a pregnancy perk. But not all symptoms of pregnancy are enjoyable. Although some women may sail through pregnancy with a cute baby bump and only a twinge of nausea others may have a host of aches and pains.

During pregnancy, you should be careful what medications and treatments you use to help with common pregnancy complaints. Certain medications may not be recommended. Also, treatments you may have relied on before pregnancy may not be a good idea. For example, a long soak in a hot tub or sweating it out in a sauna may not be recommended during pregnancy.

Fortunately, one complementary treatment that may be helpful is prenatal massage. Prenatal massage is bodywork that may increase circulation, decrease aches and reduce stress.

Common Pregnancy Aches and Pains

Pregnancy aches and pains may vary. Although every woman is different, some common pregnancy symptoms include:

Back pain: Back pain is one of the most common discomforts for moms to be. Although it can occur at any stage of pregnancy, it’s most likely to develop in the last few months of pregnancy as your tummy grows. Back pain may develop due to weight gain, which puts more stress on your back. Your center of gravity is also different as your baby bump grows. Pregnancy hormones, which loosen your pelvic joints in preparation for delivery, may also decrease back support.

Stress: Why should you feel stressed? You’re only creating another person whom you will be responsible for the next 18 years. No biggie. Seriously, stress and pregnancy often go hand in hand. You might worry about how your baby will change your life or what kind of mom you’ll be. Maybe it’s occurred to you that somehow you have to get this little bundle of joy out of your body, and as your tummy grows, so does your anxiety.

Swelling: If you have noticed swelling of your feet and hands during pregnancy, don’t be surprised. Pregnancy edema is another common discomfort that may occur.Your body is likely to produce fifty percent more fluid to meet the needs of a growing baby.That extra fluid may be great for your baby, but it can be a little uncomfortable for you.

Benefits of Prenatal Massage

If there was ever a time to pamper yourself, it’s during your pregnancy. A prenatal massage may not prevent all pregnancy discomforts. But it can help decrease back pain, swelling and stress. It can also have several benefits, including the following:

Promote relaxation: A massage feels good and is often relaxing. A prenatal massage can leave you feeling refreshed and more energetic.

Decrease headaches: Headaches can occur anytime, but may be more frequent during pregnancy. A prenatal massage may decrease tension, which can ease headaches.

Ease muscle and joint soreness: You might find your muscles and joints are often achy, especially as your pregnancy progresses. A massage improves circulation and can ease some of the soreness.

Improve sleep: Sleep may be hard to come by during pregnancy. Between a growing belly, heartburn and stress, you might find you’re often tossing and turning. The relaxing benefits of a prenatal massage may help you get the rest you need.

Precautions to Consider

A prenatal massage is usually considered safe, but there may be some exceptions. If you have a history of preterm labor, preeclampsia and or severe morning sickness, talk to your doctor before having a prenatal massage.

Some prenatal massage therapists will not perform a massage during the first trimester of pregnancy. There has been no link between massage and miscarriage during the first trimester. But there is also not a lot of research. Since most miscarriages occur during the first trimester, some therapists do not perform them early in pregnancy as a precaution.

Keep in mind, during your second trimester you should avoid lying on your back during a massage. The weight of your uterus may decrease circulation back to your heart, which may result in dizziness.

If you already have a massage therapist that you have been seeing, be sure to let him or her know that you are pregnant. However, it may be best to get a massage from someone who is specially trained in prenatal massage.

Therapists who are familiar with prenatal massage know how to adapt their massage techniques to different stages of pregnancy. For example, massage therapists know what areas to avoid and which areas may be sore. Also, therapists who perform prenatal massage routinely, often have special tables that have hollowed out areas to accommodate a growing tummy and make it easier for you to lie face down.

Characteristics of Prenatal Massage

Relaxation ***

Therapeutic ***

Intensity: Minimum – Moderate

Lubrication: Yes

Undressing: Yes

Tip: Depends on facility

How to interpret the rating scale

Whether it is to improve our overall health or to address a particular health issue, a soothing massage is always welcomed. Massages can reduce stress, improve circulation and mobility, relieve muscle tension and ease sore spots.

The prenatal massage is designed to meet the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies. It gives consideration to their comfort level and stage of pregnancy. Registered massage therapists who are trained to give a prenatal massage will adjust their techniques to suit these special clients.

Massage therapist administering prenatal massage

Benefits of a prenatal massage

The prenatal massage offers the same benefits as a regular massage, but some of these are more applicable to the mother-to-be. For instance, the prenatal massage boosts your immune system, increases blood flow and helps the body to flush out toxins. Good news at a time when you need to keep infections at bay and ensure that an adequate and healthy supply of blood gets to the fetus.

Other benefits include relief of neck pain, low back pain, joint pain, and reduced swelling of the hands and feet. It helps curb common pregnancy problems, including headaches, insomnia, and sinus congestion. Additionally, women who suffer from depression during pregnancy may find that the prenatal massage helps to lift their spirits, without the need for medication.

Position during the prenatal massage

Tender, swollen breasts and having to lie on a burgeoning belly make the traditional massage table and face down position to be uncomfortable for most pregnant women. Some massage therapists use a special table with hollowed sections to accommodate the belly and breasts allowing the pregnant client to lie face down. Others position you on your side (a much more comfortable option) and use pillows, wedges, or a full-length body pillow to give support where needed.

Lying on your back for extended periods, especially after you have passed mid-pregnancy, may not be advised. This is because too much pressure may be placed on the blood vessel that returns blood from the legs to the heart.

Things to consider before getting a prenatal massage

Many doctors advise their patients against getting a massage during the first trimester of pregnancy. And many massage therapists simply refuse to do it. The reason being, there is a higher risk of a miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy. Aside from this, there are other reasons to shun the prenatal massage at other points in a pregnancy. These include placental abruption, preeclampsia (characterized by high blood pressure) and preterm labor. Other raising red flags would be whether you have diabetes; have abdominal pain or bleeding; a fever; or a contagious virus.