The normal aches and pains of pregnancy are inconvenient enough, but combine them with the fact that expecting mothers can’t take many medications for relief, and you’ve got a recipe for grouchy future moms.
Fortunately, prenatal massage offers a natural method for easing pregnancy discomforts.
Pregnancy massage can be a wonderful solution for common pregnancy issues like prenatal and postpartum depression, low back pain, and other physical challenges.
Research shows that moms who receive regular prenatal massages may pass on health benefits to their babies as well.
Is massage during pregnancy safe?
Prenatal massage is not only safe, it’s popular as well. Pregnancy massage is actually the most common natural health treatment used by pregnant women in the U.S., used by up to 65% of women choosing alternative therapies during their pregnancy.
A well-trained massage therapist will always take careful precautions to make sure you are comfortable and safe throughout a prenatal session. Of course, you should always consult with your physician prior to getting your first pregnancy massage.
Can massage induce labor?
Certain points on the body—the back of the ankle, for example—are considered points of energy tied to childbirth in acupressure massage traditions like Shiatsu, Tui Na and Qigong.
However, massage therapists will avoid these sensitive areas when giving a prenatal massage. (Unless, of course, the pregnancy is full-term and labor is a desired outcome!)
How can I get a massage when I’m not allowed to lie on my back?
Body changes during pregnancy can make finding a comfortable position to sleep or get a massage a real challenge. Fortunately, there are a number of safe positions in which you can receive pregnancy massage.
During the second and third trimester, prenatal massage is done with you lying down on one side. The massage therapist will provide you with bolsters and pillows to place between your legs and under your head and arms to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout the session.
While there are massage tables with cutouts for the stomach, these are not recommended by the American Pregnancy Association, as they put pressure on the abdomen and can stretch out ligaments in the stomach (which are already under stress because of pregnancy).
Do massage therapists need special training to do pregnancy massage?
While massage therapists are not required to have extra training besides their massage license to give pregnancy massage, you should seek out a provider with additional training in prenatal massage techniques. Pregnancy massage instruction ranges from single classes to weeks-long intensive programs, so feel free to ask the massage therapist about the details of their training.
Can I get a pregnancy massage during my first trimester?
Since most miscarriages happen during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, some massage therapists prefer that you wait to see them until after your 13th week, or that you bring a doctor’s note releasing you for massage treatment during the first trimester. Other therapists are willing to see you during the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of healthy pregnancies in the past.
Whether or not you get prenatal massage during your first trimester should ultimately depend on medical advice from your doctor.
How often can I get a pregnancy massage?
If possible, consider getting a prenatal massage on a regular basis. Weekly pregnancy massage has been proven effective for relieving leg pain, insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, and back pain. One study showed that mothers who received weekly prenatal massages delivered babies with healthier birth weights than those who did not.
A massage membership program, like Zeel Massage membership, can help make a weekly or monthly pregnancy massage a reality.
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.