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StorkNet > StorkNet Site Map > Pregnancy > Pregnancy Articles

The Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
by Courtney Robertson

A coworker recently approached me to ask if her sister would be allowed to book a massage, even though she is six months pregnant.

"Of course! There is really no better time." I replied.

Pregnancy massage is a wonderful way for mothers-to-be to relax, rejuvenate, and release some of the stress that their bodies are under for those nine months. While the massage obviously feels fantastic, there are many other benefits.

The benefits of pregnancy massage (also known as prenatal massage) are in many ways similar to that of standard Swedish massage. These benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Encouraging muscle relaxation and tension relief
  • Reducing heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increasing blood circulation and lymphatic flow, therefore encouraging the body to release stagnant wastes held in the tissue
  • Promoting deeper breathing, and an overall sense of well being
  • Fostering faster repair and healing of stretched or strained muscular tissue
  • Strengthening the immune system by encouraging the body to maintain or return to homeostasis (optimal balance in which the body best fights injury or illness)
  • Satisfying the need for a nurturing touch

Other reported benefits from women who have experienced massage during pregnancy include:

  • Fewer obstetric and postpartum complications
  • Reduced premature birth rates
  • Shorter or less painful deliveries and less days spent in the hospital
  • Reduced swelling in the hands and feet
  • Less lower back and sciatic pain
  • Decreased instances of postpartum depression and anxiety (due to fewer stress hormones in the blood)

While any healthy, pregnant woman is able to receive massage, there are some precautions the massage therapist must observe to ensure that their client is safe during and after the massage. Since the woman's body is in a state of such physical and hormonal change, massage is limited to the second and third trimesters. This does not mean the woman cannot receive any spa services during her first trimester. The Heads Up Massage, a facial, or a manicure are all great ways to de-stress during this time.

As with any massage service, the massage therapist should be alerted to any prescient health issues. This is especially important during pregnancy. Circumstances in which pregnancy massage should not be performed include high blood pressure, diabetes, fever, unusual abdominal pain or vomiting, or any malignant condition. Varicose veins and swelling are other conditions the therapist should be made aware of prior to the massage, though the service can still be safely performed in spite of these. Some standard precautions the therapist will take include abstaining from deep pressure and avoiding heat so as not to take blood away from the fetus. Certain pressure points on the body and feet will also be avoided since they are connected with promotion of early contractions and labor. While taking precautions before, during, and after pregnancy massage is important, most clients will have no problems; they can relax and enjoy the massage free from worries.

Pregnancy massage at a good spa is designed to accommodate the expectant mother at any stage during the second and third trimester. Prior to the massage, the therapist will prepare the treatment room specifically for the mom-to-be. Special pregnancy cushions are utilized to allow the mother to lay on her back and on her stomach, no matter how far along she is. For the expectant mother, this in itself is a luxury. The therapist will instruct the client on how to lie on the cushions so as to ensure complete support and comfort. Once the massage is in progress, the therapist will pay special attention to any areas of tension or discomfort developed during or even before the pregnancy. This is the perfect time to take a deep breath, enjoy the feeling of nurturing touch, and let the stress melt away. Often, soft music, dim lighting, and warm linens allow the mother to unwind and relax in her environment.

While receiving one massage during pregnancy is certainly beneficial, treating yourself to an hour of massage once a month, or even just two or three times prior to giving birth, can do wonders for the health of mother and child. Pregnancy massage is a beautiful process - a delight for the mother-to-be, and an honor for the therapist.

About the author: Courtney Robertson is a graduate of the Onandaga School of Therapeutic Massage and has been a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist and Nationally Certified Massage Therapist since October of 2004. Courtney has performed almost 1500 massages and body work treatments since November 2004 as a full time LMT at Scott Miller - a salon, spa, and store in Rochester, NY ( She has taken workshops on Advanced Techniques of the Neck and Qi Gong and done coursework at Montgomery County Community College as well as Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a Master's Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

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