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Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

Topic Overview

Massage is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, including the skin and muscles. Massage therapists usually apply pressure with their hands, but they can also use their forearms, elbows, or feet. Some people believe that massage works because the touch is healing. Touch also communicates a sense of caring.

When you are pregnant, you can use massage therapy for relaxation and to help relieve muscle tension and pain. But for massage to be safe during pregnancy, make sure that you:

  • Tell your massage therapist that you are pregnant.
  • Avoid aromatherapy oils, some of which can be unsafe during pregnancy.
  • Avoid massage of your belly. Firm massage of the pregnant belly could cause serious pregnancy complications.
  • Talk with your massage therapist about your body position during massage. There are special tables for use during pregnancy.
    • As your pregnancy progresses, the best positions for you to be in are sitting on a chair or stool, or lying on your side (the left side is best later in pregnancy) during your massage.
    • Starting in mid-pregnancy, avoid lying on your back. This will prevent extra weight from pressing on the major blood vessel called the vena cava.
    • After 12 weeks of pregnancy (or much earlier if you are carrying twins or more), avoid lying on your belly so you don't increase strain and pressure on your uterus and low back.

Be sure that your massage therapist is specially trained in pregnancy massage and is certified by your state or a national body, such as the American Massage Therapy Association. This ensures that your massage therapist has a certain level of training and uses certain practice guidelines.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised July 23, 2012

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