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About Pregnancy Massage Therapy

Pregnancy Massage Therapy on the back of a side-lying pregnant woman.

Pregnancy massage is a way to nurture both yourself and your unborn baby.

Benefits of Massage For Pregnant Women

The benefits of pregnancy massage include reducing discomfort in your body (such as muscle cramping, tightness, stiffness, and knots). Massage reduces muscle tension and can help relieve back pain, joint pain, and headaches. Sciatic nerve pain is common in late pregnancy. Massage can help relieve the inflamed nerves by releasing the tension on nearby muscles.

Massage may also improve blood circulation, which can reduce swelling and improve the oxygen supply to the baby. Improved circulation can also also help eliminate waste products, reducing fatigue and giving you more energy.

Other potential benefits of prenatal massage include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, plus better sleep.

Cautions About Pregnancy Massage

The best position for prenatal massage is usually lying on your side. Although massage tables are available with holes to accommodate a pregnant belly with you lying face down, that position can stretch your uterine ligaments in an uncomfortable way. Some massage therapists may also use a semi-reclining position by propping up your upper body with bolsters or pillows.

For the safest massage, look for a massage therapist with specialty training in working with pregnant women. Always tell your massage therapist about your physical condition. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, get your healthcare provider's OK before receiving massage.

Usually, you shouldn't receive massage during pregnancy if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Heavy watery or bloody vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Contagious disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Fever 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Malignant condition 
  • Pre-eclampsia 
  • Unusual pain 
  • Vomiting/diarrhea

Although some massage therapists will not massage a woman during the first trimester, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) indicates it's OK to have massage during that time. Consult your healthcare provider if in doubt.

The APA recommends Swedish massage during pregnancy because "it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts." However, you can investigate other massage techniques, if appropriate.

Information about pregnancy and essential oils.

Prenatal Massage Video Clip


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Photo Credit: Ryan Hoyme

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