What to Know about Prenatal (Pregnancy) Massage


Many women have heard about prenatal massage or have seen it advertised, yet it remains a type of massage that is shrouded in mystery—or at least uncertainty.

Frequently, expectant mothers want to be cautious, especially during their first pregnancy. They worry about poking and prodding that may upset the developing baby. And also, the thought of lying prone on a table, even in the early stages of pregnancy, will likely sound unappealing at best to most women and impossible to others. Fortunately, expectant mothers will have a very different experience during their prenatal massage.

Why should an expecting mother get a prenatal massage?

A prenatal massage is like a regular Swedish or relaxation massage, good for loosening tense muscles and reducing stress and fatigue. During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a lot. Plus, there are additional stressors that come with growing a new little human, especially for the first time. If there is a lot to get done or work needs to be juggled, the usual aches and pains can feel even worse with the added baby weight and pressure.

Prenatal massage can help to improve circulation as well as lifting some of the strain from muscles and joints, helping overall reenergization. Many pregnant women find their mobility changing or becoming limited. This is because with a pregnancy, the developing (and growing) baby will shift the mother’s center of gravity, causing her entire body to realign. Pregnancy affects posture and pulls the pelvis forward, which affects hips, pelvic joints, lower back, spine, abdominal muscles, upper back, shoulders, and neck. Basically, everything gets out of whack.

Additionally, during pregnancy, hormones can be unpredictable, especially coupled with stress factors. Massage is known to relieve stress as well as the stress hormones in the body. A prenatal massage can help the expecting mother feel better physically and mentally. Another benefit is that the relaxation can take care of the gestational insomnia that often occurs, as well as minimizing leg cramps and sciatica, and even reduce swelling in the extremities of the hands and feet.

What to expect during a prenatal massage

Massage therapists who practice prenatal massage are specially trained to be familiar with the changes in a pregnant woman’s body as well as aware of what is safe and effective around the developing baby. Trained prenatal massage therapists will be aware of the expecting mother’s swollen and tender spots and can access the points to generate relief.

Most therapists will not have an expecting mother lie in the prone position, unless they have a specialized cushion that contours to her specific shape. Generally, the pregnant woman is on her side, wedged in with various pillows to maximize comfort and offer the greatest relief for the strain of the baby bump. But it is important to for all clients to make their therapists aware of any discomfort they experience because of positioning. It’s generally not recommended for pregnant women to lie flat on their backs, as the developing baby (especially later in the pregnancy) will rest right on the vena cava, the vein that pumps blood from the legs to the heart, creating too much pressure and potentially cutting off circulation.

Some women aren’t sure if they want abdominal massaging as part of their prenatal massage. While gentle abdominal massaging can offer many benefits to mom and baby, it’s up to individual preference. If it doesn’t feel right at the time, it’s okay—and imperative—to tell the massage therapist. Every client has the right to decline massage treatment to a specific area. The purpose is to create comfort rather than discomfort.

When should a prenatal massage be avoided?

For all expecting mothers, it is recommended to consult with their practitioner beforehand. If an expecting mother has the condition preeclampsia, diabetes, regular vomiting, high blood pressure, or a broken bone, she may want to defer treatment, or at least be cleared by a doctor for a very light massage. Massage therapists should always be made aware of a history of blood clots, viruses, abdominal pain or bleeding, or a prior allergy to massage oils.

Being an expecting mother means that soon your life will be given over to taking care of another little being. Taking time out for yourself and for your body with a prenatal massage will offer you the chance to relax and relieve the aches in your body as well as reduce stress leading up to the birth. At Massage Concepts, we are dedicated to helping clients improve health and achieve a more balanced lifestyle. For more information on prenatal massages, or if you’re ready to make an appointment or want to view a full listing of our services, call us at 858-847-2777 or visit us at massageconceptsdelmar.com.