“Pregnancy And Massage Therapy”

Emi Hata, CMT 

This is a personal column about the human body and function and is not a medical advice article.  

What is pregnancy massage?

Pregnancy massage is a hands-on massage during or after pregnancy ( prenatal or postpartum massage ).  A pregnancy massage typically lasts one hour.  At my massage studio, I work with my pregnant clients with organic plant oil based therapeutic massage, applying light to medium pressure.  Clients' massage positions is mostly sidelying position. 


When you consider massage therapy during pregnancy, please make sure your massage therapist is certified and specially trained for pregnancy massage.  


Maternal developments-changes in your body during pregnancy


1st trimester ( weeks 1-13 )

  • Enlarged, tender breasts

  • Emotional and hormonal adjustment

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent urination

  • Morning sickness or all day nausea and/or vomiting


*massage positions: supine ( face-up ), prone ( face-down ), sidelying, semireclining, or seated


2nd trimester ( week 14-26 )

  • Increased weight

  • Back, pelvic, hip, and leg pain may develop

  • Round and broad ligament pain

  • Stretch marks and other skin and hair changes

  • Varicose and/or spider veins

  • Constipation and/or heartburn


*massage positions: sidelying, semireclining, or seated


3rd trimester ( week 27-40+ )

  • Eagerness and anxiety

  • Weight gain

  • Increased back, pelvic, and hip pain

  • Heartburn, constipation, or hemorrhoids

  • Edema in feet and legs

  • Varicose veins

  • Urinary frequency


*massage positions: sidelying, semireclining, or seated


When to avoid prenatal massage

Please avoid massage therapy if: 

  • You’re experiencing nausea, vomiting, or morning sickness.

  • You're at high risk of pregnancy such as diabetes, cardiac, liver or renal/bladder disorders, chronic hypertension, asthma or other pulmonary disorder, etc.


I personally require written consent from your doctor before performing prenatal massage if you have high risk factors of pregnancy.  Before scheduling a massage, please ask your doctor if massage therapy is safe for you.


Benefits of prenatal massage therapy

Regular prenatal massage therapy can:

  • Enhances immunological function

  • Increases oxytocin production

  • Reduces maternal blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate

  • Reduces fear and anxiety

  • Reduces labor time and complications

  • Increases uterine blood supply to enhance fetal health


Benefits of postpartum massage therapy

If no complications have occured, it is ideal to have a postpartum massage therapy in the first 24 hours to a week after delivery of her baby.  Most mothers would benefit from three to five sessions within their first three to six postpartum months. 


Regular postpartum massage therapy can:

  • Provides nurturance and emotional support

  • Reduces residual pelvic and back pain

  • Encourages pelvic floor and abdominal healing

  • Prevents strain and pain from childcare activities

Lastly, relaxation and self-awareness create increased well-being for both the mother and the baby and increased chances for positive birth experiences.  

Emi Hata, CMT