Pregnancy Massage: The Essential Guide for Every Expectant Mother

Pregnancy massage for every mother

The Magic of Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy is a time of wonder, excitement, and, let’s be honest, a fair share of discomfort. But what if there was a way to ease those aches and pains while also providing a sense of calm and relaxation? Enter the world of pregnancy massage. This specialized form of therapy is designed to address the unique needs of expectant mothers, providing relief from common pregnancy discomforts and promoting overall wellness.

Why Pregnancy Massage Matters

Pregnancy massage isn’t just a luxury—it’s a powerful tool that can support your well-being during this transformative time. By targeting specific areas of tension and discomfort, pregnancy massage can help you feel more comfortable in your changing body. But the benefits aren’t just physical. Pregnancy massage can also help reduce stress and anxiety, helping you to relax and enjoy this special time.

Understanding Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy Massage: A Closer Look

Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, is a type of therapy specifically tailored to the needs of pregnant women. It uses gentle techniques to help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain, leg cramps, and swelling. But it’s not just about physical relief. Pregnancy massage also aims to create a sense of relaxation and calm, helping to reduce stress and anxiety during this often emotional time.

This specialized form of massage is performed with the woman in a side-lying position or using specially designed pillows to ensure comfort and safety for both mother and baby. The techniques used in pregnancy massage are designed to nurture and support the expectant mother, helping her to prepare her body for the changes that occur during this exciting time.

The Science Behind Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage works by targeting specific areas of tension in the body, helping to relieve muscle aches and joint pains. It also helps to improve circulation, which can reduce swelling and improve mobility. But the benefits of pregnancy massage go beyond the physical.

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, regular prenatal massage not only reduced leg and back pain but also improved sleep and decreased anxiety and depression.

Another study from the International Journal of Neuroscience found that women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks had lower levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine, and higher levels of serotonin and dopamine. These changes led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight.

Furthermore, a Mayo Clinic article highlights that prenatal massage can also help to improve labor outcomes and newborn health. It’s a holistic approach that supports the overall well-being of the mother, promoting a healthier pregnancy and a smoother childbirth process.

Relax with pregnancy massage

The Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, offers a range of benefits for expectant mothers. These benefits span both physical and emotional aspects, contributing to the overall well-being of the mother and potentially the baby.

Physical Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Easing Muscle Tension

Pregnancy often brings about various physical discomforts, including muscle tension. As the body changes to accommodate the growing baby, new aches and pains can emerge. Pregnancy massage can help alleviate these discomforts by relieving muscle tension. This relief is achieved through the manipulation of soft tissues, which can help to relax tight muscles and reduce discomfort. This claim is supported by a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, which found that massage therapy can effectively reduce muscle tension and pain.

Improving Blood Circulation

Good circulation is crucial during pregnancy as it ensures the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to both the mother and the baby. However, the physical changes that occur during pregnancy can sometimes impede blood flow. Pregnancy massage can help to improve circulation. This is corroborated by a study in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, which found that massage therapy can enhance blood flow.

Reducing Swelling

Swelling, or edema, is a common complaint during pregnancy, particularly in the legs and feet. This is often due to reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Pregnancy massage can help to reduce this swelling by improving lymphatic drainage, which helps to remove excess fluid and reduce discomfort. A study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing supports this, stating that massage therapy can help reduce edema during pregnancy.

Emotional Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Stress Reduction

Pregnancy can be a stressful time due to hormonal changes and the anticipation of a major life change. Pregnancy massage can help to reduce stress levels by promoting relaxation and enhancing the body’s natural ability to reduce stress. A comprehensive review of the literature on massage therapy published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that massage therapy can effectively reduce stress-reactive physiological measures, including cortisol levels, which are often associated with stress.

Hormonal Balance

Pregnancy triggers a surge in hormones, which can sometimes lead to mood swings and emotional discomfort. Regular pregnancy massages can help to balance these hormone levels, promoting emotional well-being. This is supported by research published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, which found that massage therapy can help regulate hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy.

Enhancing Emotional Well-being

Pregnancy massage isn’t just about physical relief—it’s also about emotional well-being. By providing a space for relaxation and self-care, pregnancy massage can help to enhance your mood and overall emotional health. This is supported by a study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, which found that massage therapy can improve emotional well-being in pregnant women.

Pregnancy massage to take care of you and your baby

Common Techniques in Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, employs a variety of techniques specifically designed to provide relief and relaxation to expectant mothers. These techniques are tailored to accommodate the changes a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy and to address the unique discomforts that may arise.

Swedish Massage Techniques

Swedish massage techniques form the backbone of pregnancy massage. These techniques include long, smooth strokes and kneading that help to relax tense muscles and improve circulation. The gentle nature of Swedish massage makes it particularly suitable for pregnant women, providing them with relaxation and stress relief.

Deep Tissue Massage

While deep tissue massage is often avoided during pregnancy due to its intensity, some elements can be safely incorporated into a pregnancy massage. This technique focuses on relieving tension in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue and can be particularly beneficial for chronic aches and pains.


Reflexology involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears that correspond to different organs and systems in the body. When used in pregnancy massage, reflexology can help to alleviate common pregnancy complaints like back pain, nausea, and swollen ankles.

Safety Measures in Pregnancy Massage Techniques

Safety is paramount in pregnancy massage. Therapists are trained to avoid certain pressure points that could potentially stimulate pelvic muscles and lead to uterine contractions. They also ensure that the expectant mother is positioned safely and comfortably during the massage.

Side-Lying Position

One common position used during pregnancy massage is the side-lying position. This position is often used to protect both the mother and the baby. It allows the therapist to access the muscles of the back and hips while ensuring the comfort and safety of the expectant mother.

Use of Pregnancy Pillows

Pregnancy pillows, also known as maternity pillows, are often used during pregnancy massage to provide support and comfort. These pillows can be placed under the stomach, between the knees, or behind the back to alleviate pressure and strain on the muscles and joints.

Comparing Pregnancy Massage with Other Massages

Pregnancy Massage vs. Swedish Massage

While both types of massage aim to relieve tension and promote relaxation, pregnancy massage is specifically tailored to the needs of pregnant women. It focuses on relieving the unique aches and pains that come with pregnancy, such as lower back pain, leg cramps, and swelling.

On the other hand, Swedish massage is a more general form of massage that aims to relax tense muscles and improve circulation. It uses a variety of techniques, including long, gliding strokes, kneading, and vibration, to help relax the body and relieve tension. However, while Swedish massage can be deeply relaxing, it doesn’t address the specific needs and discomforts of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Massage vs. Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage uses heated stones to relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues. The heat from the stones helps to relax the muscles, allowing the therapist to work deeper into the tissue without applying too much pressure. This can be deeply relaxing and soothing, helping to relieve stress and tension.

However, hot stone massage is not typically recommended for pregnant women due to the heat of the stones and the positions required during the massage. Lying flat on your back, as is often required during a hot stone massage, can be uncomfortable and even unsafe during later stages of pregnancy.

In contrast, pregnancy massage is safe and beneficial for expectant mothers. It’s performed with the woman in a side-lying position or using specially designed pillows to ensure comfort and safety for both mother and baby.

Pregnancy Massage vs. Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage combines the soothing power of touch with the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. The oils are chosen for their specific properties, such as calming, energizing, or healing, and are used to enhance the benefits of the massage.

While some essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy, others should be avoided due to their potential to stimulate contractions or cause other complications. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with a knowledgeable therapist who understands which oils are safe for use during pregnancy.

Pregnancy massage, however, is safe throughout all stages of pregnancy and can be tailored to each individual’s needs and comfort level. It focuses on the specific needs of the pregnant body and uses safe and effective techniques to relieve discomfort and promote relaxation.

And if you’re curious about other types of massages, please explore our comprehensive guide to massage techniques, where you can learn more about Reiki, Craniosacral therapy, Myofascial release, Lymphatic drainage, and reflexology all of which may be used as part of a pregnancy massage treatment plan or protocol.

What to expect during a pregnancy massage

Preparing for a Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, is a wonderful way to alleviate the aches and pains that often accompany pregnancy. However, as with any new experience, it’s natural to have questions or concerns about what to expect. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for your first pregnancy massage session.

What to Expect in Your First Pregnancy Massage Session

Your first pregnancy massage session will likely begin with a consultation. During this time, your therapist will ask about your health history, your pregnancy, and any specific areas of discomfort. This information will help them tailor the massage to your specific needs and ensure your safety and comfort throughout the session.


During the consultation, don’t hesitate to share any concerns or questions you might have. Your therapist is there to help you and make sure you’re comfortable. They can explain the process, discuss any modifications needed for your comfort, and answer any questions you might have.

During the Massage

Once the consultation is complete, you’ll move on to the massage itself. Your therapist will ensure that you are positioned safely and comfortably throughout the session. This might involve the use of special cushions or pillows to support your belly and help you relax.

Tips for a Comfortable Pregnancy Massage Experience

To get the most out of your pregnancy massage, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Communication is Key

It’s important to communicate with your therapist throughout the session. Let them know if you have any areas of discomfort or if you are uncomfortable at any point during the massage. Your comfort and safety are the top priorities, and your therapist can adjust their techniques or your position to better suit your needs.


It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water before and after your session to help flush out any toxins released during the massage. Staying hydrated can also help to reduce muscle soreness and promote overall wellness.

Comfortable Clothing

Wear comfortable clothing to your appointment. You’ll be asked to undress to your comfort level for the massage, so wearing clothes that are easy to take off and put on can make the process smoother.


After the massage, take some time to rest and relax. You might feel a bit sore or tired after your session, which is perfectly normal. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to take it easy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pregnancy Massage

Is Pregnancy Massage Safe?

Absolutely! Pregnancy massage is safe for most women throughout all stages of pregnancy. However, women with certain health conditions may need to avoid it. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment during pregnancy.

When Should I Start Getting Pregnancy Massages?

You can start receiving pregnancy massages at any point during your pregnancy. However, many professionals recommend waiting until the second trimester, as the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly after the first trimester.

How Often Should I Get a Pregnancy Massage?

The frequency of pregnancy massages can vary depending on your personal needs and preferences. Some women enjoy weekly massages, while others prefer to have them once or twice a month. Your massage therapist can help you determine a schedule that works best for you.

Can I Get a Pregnancy Massage in My First Trimester?

While it’s generally safe to get a pregnancy massage during the first trimester, many massage therapists will not perform them during this time due to the increased risk of miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

What Should I Wear to a Pregnancy Massage?

Comfort is key when it comes to pregnancy massage. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that you can easily remove. During the massage, you will be covered with a sheet or blanket, and only the area being massaged will be exposed.

Can Pregnancy Massage Induce Labor?

While some massage techniques can potentially stimulate contractions, a professional pregnancy massage therapist will avoid these areas and techniques. If you are close to your due date and are interested in a massage to help induce labor, speak with your healthcare provider.

Does Insurance Cover Pregnancy Massage?

Some insurance plans do cover pregnancy massage, but it varies widely. Check with your insurance provider to see if this is a service they cover.

How to Choose a Pregnancy Massage Therapist?

When choosing a pregnancy massage therapist, look for someone who is certified in pregnancy massage. They should have a solid understanding of the changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy and how to safely and effectively address any discomfort or issues that may arise.

Embracing the Journey with Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy is a beautiful, transformative, and sometimes challenging journey. Pregnancy massage can be a valuable tool to help you navigate these changes and embrace each stage of your pregnancy. It offers a multitude of benefits, from physical relief to emotional support, making it a worthwhile addition to your prenatal care routine. So, why not take a step towards self-care and book a pregnancy massage today? After all, you and your baby deserve it!

Ready to Experience the Magic of Pregnancy Massage?

If you’re in or around Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University, or planning to visit, we invite you to book an appointment at That’s the Rub. Our experienced therapists are ready to guide you through a blissful journey of relaxation and comfort. Choose from our range of services:

Book your appointment today and embrace the nurturing touch of pregnancy massage!


For more information on pregnancy massage, we encourage you to explore the following resources:

  • Field, T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage. Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 5(2), 177-181. Link
  • Hollenbach, D., et al. (2013). Non-pharmacological interventions for sleep quality and insomnia during pregnancy: A systematic review. Journal of Can Chiropr Assoc, 57(3), 260-270. Link
  • Osborne, C. (2012). Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy. Body Therapy Associates. Link
FAQs on Pregnancy Massage