Pregnancy Massage

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

The benefits of prenatal massage include a wide range of physiological, emotional and psychological benefits.

-Alleviates stress on weight-bearing joints and muscular-fascial structures

-Assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy: -muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, heartburn and acid reflux, fatigue, varicose veins, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, edema of the lower extremities, neck pain, inter-scapular pain, sacroiliac and hip joint pain and constipation

-Increases blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to both mother and fetus and stimulates the lymph system, thereby increasing immunity and removal of toxins

-Stabilizes hormonal levels and helps relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes

-Soothes and relaxes the nervous system by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. As a result, the expectant mother feels more relaxed and at ease, and will also sleep more easily and more deeply

-Assists in maintaining good posture and adjusting to a changing alignment caused by the baby’s increasing weight. Massage increases muscle tone and flexibility, enhancing the ability to carry this extra weight while also relieving aches and pains, leg cramps and muscle spasms

-Eases the load on the heart and helps keep blood pressure in check

-Enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues

-Supports the return of blood to the heart and increases blood flow to the uterus and placenta. –With the enormous demands placed on the circulatory system during pregnancy, blood volume may increase up to 60 percent compared to pre-pregnancy levels. As pregnancy progresses and the uterus enlarges and presses deep into the pelvic bowl, venous return to the heart is hampered

-Prepares the mother-to-be for an easier delivery with its sedating effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and stress relief

-Offers a natural, safe, drug-free alternative choice for pain relief, since taking medications are often limited during a pregnancy for the sake of the unborn child

In addition to the physical benefits, prenatal massage provides expecting women with the emotional support and nurturing touch provided by nonsexual human touch and energy.

Info taken from:


The goals of pregnancy massage according to Lynne Daize, with the National Association of Pregnancy Massage are:

During the first trimester of pregnancy, a primary goal of massage is to provide relaxation and increase flow of the circulation systems. Stimulating the blood system pumps more energy-giving oxygen and nutrients into your cells and increases blood flow to the placenta. Muscle tension can slow down lymph flow, leaving you fatigued and at risk of toxemia. By stimulating this system, massage speeds up elimination of toxins and excess fluid, boosting your immunity and energy level.

And when it comes to morning sickness, Daize indicates that while bodywork won’t completely relieve nausea, it can certainly diminish the queasiness.

In the second trimester, increasing weight of the baby can cause muscle soreness. “The mother starts going through more changes,” says Daize, “so massage is used to relieve muscle spasms and ease structural changes.” The therapist works to loosen joints, keeping them aligned, and soften the connective tissues, relieving backaches and leg cramps.

As pregnancy progresses and the abdomen enlarges, special positioning is required during massage. Up to the 24th week of pregnancy it is acceptable, according to Daize, for moms to be on their back with the right hip tilted up, taking pressure off the nerves and arteries. Pressure on the arteries in the back, she notes, will diminish blood flow and oxygen to the fetus. Another position that decreases stress on the back is side-lying, with the belly supported by a small wedge pillow.

During the final trimester’s “home stretch,” the baby begins to gain weight more rapidly, pressing against inner organs and shifting them about. Discomfort increases and the impending due date can cause added stress and anxiety. At this stage, Daize says, the therapist focuses on trigger points to relieve pain while continuing to elicit relaxation throughout the body. Generally, during the last two weeks before mom’s due date the therapist concentrates her techniques on preparing the mother’s body for delivery.

Before initiating massage, consult your obstetrician, especially if you are high-risk. While massage is a safe treatment, there are certain conditions that require your physician’s approval and careful monitoring by the therapist. Notify your therapist immediately of any changes in your physical health, and consult your obstetrician about continuing the treatments should complications arise. Some physicians may be unaware of the benefits of pregnancy massage and hesitant to recommend it. In these cases, the therapist can help by providing information that explains her specialized training and experience.

By Shirley Vanderbilt

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Fall 2002.

Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

– National Association of Pregnancy Massage Therapy – 888/451-4945

– Bodyworkers Association for the Birthing Year, Inc. – 877/793-BABY

– Massage for the Mother-to-Be – 661/328-9703

– Association of Labor Assistants Childbirth Educators – 888/222-5223