Pregnant and in Pain? Get a Massage!

Note: The Pregistry website includes expert reports on more than 2000 medications, 300 diseases, and 150 common exposures during pregnancy and lactation. For the topic Pain, go here. These expert reports are free of charge and can be saved and shared.


Your back hurts.

Now that you think about it, your knees hurt, your neck hurts, your shoulders hurt, even your eyes hurt.

Welcome to the wonderful world of pregnancy!

We know how rough these days can get — you are carrying around a human inside of you!

You want nothing more than a good, hard massage.

Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Modern investigation and research have shown that prenatal massage therapy can be an instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration. Massages while pregnant can be safe and help relieve anxiety, stress, and muscle tension in relation to your pregnancy.

Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is specifically certified in prenatal massage.

The American Pregnancy Association works with some massage therapists who are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications. Another thing to keep in mind is while any massage therapist can theoretically work on pregnant women, it is best to go to a specialist who has a minimum of 16 hours of advanced training in maternal massage. There is no specific certification so you should ask when you make your appointment. This way, you can rest assured you are in the hands of someone who knows exactly how to relieve any pain and pressure related to your changing anatomy.

Always check with your practitioner before receiving a prenatal massage — particularly if you have diabetes, morning sickness, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, fever, a contagious virus, abdominal pain or bleeding — they’re complications that could make massage during pregnancy risky. Additionally, making sure the salon or massage parlor is clean and hygienic is even more important than normal. The bacteria you come in contact with is the bacteria your baby comes in contact with so be careful.

Massage therapists see the human body like an artist sees a canvas. Their goal is to help you feel less pain and greater relaxation.

It is a common misconception that some areas on your body are immediate “no-go zones” if you are pregnant.

Despite myths you might have heard, there’s is no magic eject button that will accidentally disrupt your pregnancy — although direct pressure on the area between the ankle bone and heel can trigger contractions and should be avoided.

However, make sure your massage therapist avoids the abdomen area, too, where deep kneading can make you uncomfortable. If the therapist knows you are pregnant, she or he will most likely know to avoid the abdomen area or any other area you say makes you uncomfortable.

However, if you are in the second half of your pregnancy (after the fourth month), do not lie on your back during your massage; the weight of your baby and uterus can compress blood vessels and reduce circulation to your placenta, creating more problems than any massage can cure.

Lastly, in order to get the most out of your massage try not to feel self-conscious.

A good massage therapist is not judgmental, and everyone knows the pregnancy stomach and body look different than when you do not have a baby living inside of you!

The therapist will not care (and probably will not even notice) if you have not shaved your legs in a while or if you have gained a little extra weight during pregnancy.

Massage therapists see the human body like an artist sees a canvas. Their goal is to help you feel less pain and greater relaxation. On that note, your privacy is very important. A professional massage therapist will never ask you to expose more of your body than you are comfortable showing. If you feel uneasy for any reason, be sure to tell your therapist right away.

Finally, it is important to hydrate before your appointment. Pregnant women require additional fluid intake anyway, so drink a few extra glasses of water before and after your appointment.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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