Prenatal Massage and It's Benefits
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Prenatal Massage and It's Benefits

calendarFebruary 19, 2017

Maternity massage


Massage therapy has been known to improve one’s overall health. There have been several views about massage and pregnancy. Most medical practitioners recommend prenatal massage because of the benefits that it brings to a pregnant woman.

Recent research studies conducted on the topic revealed that pregnancy massage can contribute greatly to a healthy, safe and comfortable pregnancy. While therapists’ training includes how to give massage to pregnant women, it is recommended to choose a certified therapist specializing in prenatal massage.


What Is Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage refers to massage given to pregnant women to make them feel relaxed and comfortable despite the hormonal and physical changes that are brought by gestation. These changes may cause anxiety, depression, muscle pains, and discomforts.

While the massage can be given by the husband, it is highly recommended to find properly-trained and knowledgeable massage therapy provider. These specialists know techniques to use when massaging pregnant women. Visiting a massage therapy center will be helpful because it has the equipment customized for the needs of pregnant women.

This specially designed equipment is necessary when giving massage to a pregnant woman because at this stage, the woman’s belly is already quite big and lying face-down can put pressure on the belly and breasts. Massage centers have special tables that can make maternity massage during the third trimester comfortable.

However, in the absence of this special equipment, the safest position during prenatal massage lying on the side as long as there is enough support will be safe for you.

Reasons to Have a Massage While Pregnant

Below are the benefits that can be derived by a pregnant woman from a professional massage provider:

  • Reduction of anxiety. Some women feel afraid of being pregnant. They think that it can endanger their life. Suffering from a headache and other body pains caused by having a baby in the womb can make some women think that they are suffering from serious illnesses. A massage during early pregnancy can bring relief to a headache and other pains. This comfortable feeling will help a woman relax and feel positive toward having a child.
  • Reduction of back and leg pain. Aside from a headache, carrying a child in the womb can cause back and leg pain. This is because the body is trying to carry additional burden. As the belly grows bigger, the baby becomes heavier and the back and leg muscles take all the pressure. As a result, the woman could suffer from severe pain of the back and leg muscles. Leg cramps can be severely painful. Foot and leg massage are recommended as the best way to reduce the pain, if not get rid of it totally. A back massage is also important to get relief from the back pain.
  • Improvement of sleep. A massage relaxes the mind and body, leading a person to get a good sleep. A pregnant woman needs to have plenty of rest and sleep to keep herself and her baby healthy. The comfortable feeling brought by a massage will help a person sleep well.
  • Improves the production of serotonin, a body chemical that is known to reduce pain. This means that the woman will suffer less from pain brought by her pregnancy.
  • Reduction of swelling or edema. Swelling or edema is caused by bad circulation of blood. There is also an increase in the pressure to the veins and this can cause the swelling. Massage therapy is known to improve blood circulation and thus, prevent swelling.

Precautions and Contraindications for Pregnancy Massage

Information has been gathered through research about the effects of massage:

  • Most doctors do not advise a pregnant woman to have a massage during the first few weeks of pregnancy because this might cause a miscarriage. Massage involves putting pressure on some points of the body that make the uterus contract, resulting in miscarriage.
  • Some oils may cause negative reaction on the pregnant woman. Women in their early stage of pregnancy become highly sensitive to scents or smells. This is one reason that they experience nausea. The use of essential oils during massage worsens pregnancy symptoms.
  • Too much pressure during massage must be avoided because it can lead to dislodged blood clots. Once the blood clot is released, blood circulation is affected. Lack of and this can cause harm to the fetus.
  • Massage can cause contraction of the uterus, which is stimulated b the pressure placed on some points of the body. The contractions may cause miscarriage.
  • Lying face down or flat on your back during massage can harm the baby inside. When you lie face down on a flat surface, pressure will be placed on our breasts and belly. Too much pressure can harm the baby. When you lie flat on your back, pressure is placed on your uterus and thus, miscarriage may occur.
  • Women who are having high-risk pregnancies should avoid massage. Women prone to eclampsia should avoid a massage because the pressure may increase the risk.
  • Seek the help of qualified massage therapists. Pregnancy places a woman in a delicate condition. Applying the right amount of pressure during massage sessions is of utmost importance. In addition, the therapists should know which parts of the body to include when applying pressure during massage.

Is It Safe to Have a Massage while Pregnant?

A massage during pregnancy can bring comfort and allow a good sleep despite the anxiety and discomforts brought by carrying a child. As long as you hire an expert massage therapist for pregnant women, it will be safe and beneficial for you.

Make sure to lie down on your side during the procedure. Lying face-down can put pressure on the abdomen and breasts and should be avoided. Lying on the back can put pressure on the uterus. Make sure to have pillows for support for more comfort.

Prenatal massage to induce labor has been practiced for many years. For example, doctors would tell women to massage their breasts so that they will have contractions. This is believed to hasten childbirth. Gentle belly massage is also believed to stimulate childbirth.

When Should You Avoid a Prenatal Massage?

Massage while pregnant

In most instances, massage during pregnancy should be avoided when advised by a physician or when the pregnancy is considered high risk because pressure on some points of the body may cause a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy. During massage, a blood clot can be dislodged and impede blood circulation. This can endanger the life of the baby inside the womb.

Another instance when massage should be avoided is when you are not sure of the skills of the therapist. There are techniques used for women who are pregnant and lack of knowledge of these might harm the mother and the baby.

Avoid getting a massage when you experience abdominal cramps and bleeding. Instead, visit your doctor and ask for his advice.

If you have a risky pregnancy, massage should be avoided. Women who got pregnant at an old age, those who are prone to eclampsia, and those who had given birth to several children are considered to have high-risk pregnancy. As much as possible, avoid a massage.

What Are Possible Pregnancy Massage Techniques?

There are several techniques in giving a pregnant person a massage to help her feel relief. These techniques are considered safe and if you want to learn them and become an expert, you can attend massage therapy courses in training centers. Here are some of the methods commonly used.

  • Swedish Massage

This type of massage is highly recommended for pregnant women. This is performed by using long strokes towards the heart. It aims to make the pregnant woman feel relaxed and to improve blood circulation. Since changes in the tissues and skeletal structure occur during pregnancy, getting this massage will help get rid of the pains and soreness that pregnancy brings.

  • Use of Unclenched Fist

This method of massaging is good at relieving back pain. This is done by moving the unclenched fist on the side of the spine. The movement of the unclenched fist should be from the nape downwards to the hips. Repeating the procedure a few times can give relief from back pain.

  • Use soft fist

The buttocks bear lots of pressure and the pain could be unbearable. To relieve the pain, use a soft fist to press the pelvic area. However, avoid pressing the bone at the end of the pelvis. Use gentle motion with a soft fist. Repeat the procedure several times for relief from the pain.

  • Rubbing Outer Part of the Legs

The legs suffer the brunt of the baby’s weight during pregnancy. During the late stage, the legs may swell and the pain can be unbearable. Some women may not be able to sleep due to discomfort and pain. For relief, massage the leg starting from where the calf and the foot meet. Use gentle circular motions going up to where the thighs meet the buttocks. Make sure to stay on the outer part of the legs. Repeat several times.

Frequently Asked Questions about Massage during Pregnancy

  • Can pregnant women get massages?

The answer is “Yes”. In fact, most pregnant women find relief and comfort after a massage. However, it is important to consult with your doctor first before you have a massage. If you are having difficulties in your pregnancy, avoid getting a massage because it might cause more complications.

  • When should you get pregnancy massage?

It has been observed that getting a massage during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as long as it is done by a certified therapist is safe. Modern researches reveal that getting a massage can be safe at all stages of pregnancy provided that it is performed properly. On the other hand, some doctors think that it will be best to start massage therapy during the 13th week of gestation.

Prenatal massage can become a part of the regular prenatal care. When a pregnant woman suffers from stress, body pains, and anxiety, it is high time to have massage therapy to reduce these pregnancy symptoms that might harm the mother and child.

With the rising popularity of massage centers where well-trained professionals are trained on various massage techniques for pregnant women, most of the discomforts of pregnancy will be reduced, leading to a healthy mother and healthy baby.

  • Can a massage induce labor?

Yes. There are parts of the body that when pressed, stimulate the contraction of the uterus. Inducing labor is done when the woman is already overdue or when her due date has already passed and she did not give birth yet. The most common area to massage is the breast because it causes the uterus to contract. The skin between the thumb and index finger can also cause the uterus to contract.

  • How to give a prenatal massage?

When giving prenatal massage, be gentle at all times. Avoid putting pressure on some points of the body that may have a direct bearing on the uterus. Pressing these body parts can cause the uterus to contract. The pregnant woman can have a miscarriage or an induced labor that might endanger her life.

See to it that the woman is properly positioned. If there is no special equipment to accommodate the belly and the breasts when the woman is lying face down, let her lie down sideways and support her body with pillows. A wrong position during massage can endanger her pregnancy.

  • How much does a prenatal massage cost?

An hour-long prenatal massage may cost about 65 - 150 dollars. If you go to a popular massage center, the price can be higher. The same is true when you request for home service, which means that a professional does the procedure at your home. Considering the many benefits that it can bring, the cost may not be of due importance.

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