Pregnancy Massage – Another Option For Massage Therapists

lactation consultation

As more and more expectant mothers turn to massage as a way to ease the aches and pains of impending motherhood, pregnancy massage (also known as prenatal massage) is becoming an increasingly popular specialization among therapists. It can also serve as a great way to increase income, since many women are willing to pay more for the specialization that comes with this type of massage.

In order to operate as a responsible and lawsuit-free therapist, it is highly recommended to get the appropriate training before attempting prenatal massage as a specialization. Although there is no official “prenatal massage therapist” title, many practitioners take specific courses or continuing education credits in order to learn all there is to know about the practice.

Pregnancy Massage Equipment

Although some types of prenatal massage can be performed by having the expectant mother lie on her side (rather than in the traditional face-down position) during the procedure, many practitioners turn to specialized equipment.

Pregnancy massage tables have an indented or cut-out section where the mother’s belly and breasts can rest comfortably, although some practitioners find that the lack of support causes additional muscle strain on the belly. Extra-padded table tops are also fairly common, and  practitioners can also consider special pillows that allow mothers to rest on their backs (in a semi-sitting position) during the session.

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Prenatal massage is known to do a number of things in easing the discomfort of pregnancy. It can relieve stress, decrease some of the swelling and water retention that accompanies pregnancy, reduce pain in muscles and joints, and increase circulation. Many women find that turning to massage is a preferable alternative to taking medication, which is carried over to the fetus and may have harmful side effects.

Some studies also indicate that regular massage during pregnancy can help reduce the onset of post-partum depression after the baby is born. Though not all medical professionals are on board with this theory, the idea is that prenatal massage reduces stress hormones, thereby increasing the likelihood of a safe pregnancy, an easy delivery, and a quick recovery. When combined, these are expected to contribute to a lower onset of depression for the new mother during the first year of the baby’s life.

Many women also turn to massage during their actual labor. Sometimes known as massage doulas, these practitioners use this practice to shorten labor, reduce pain, improve the odds of natural birth, and simply make women more comfortable.

The emotional side effects of massage are also part of the reason why it is such a popular trend. Whether women opt for the relaxation offered by massage in the second trimester, the pain relief during the last few months, or post-partum massage to get all their muscles back in shape after giving birth, there is no discounting the benefits. Quiet music, a serene atmosphere, and the connection of physical touch have been known to do wonders to ease what is quite possibly the most stressful time of a woman’s life.

Specialty Pregnancy Massage Requirements

Because a pregnant woman’s body is different from a typical body (due to the hormones, loosened joints, stretched ligaments, and sensitive points),  therapists should be trained specifically in prenatal massage before they attempt it. This is especially true when working on women near the end of their pregnancies, since the manipulation of certain points can stimulate pelvic muscles and bring on uterine contractions. Practitioners should also avoid the use of scented candles, oils, and lotions, since many pregnant women can react negatively to strong smells.

There are no license requirements for practicing prenatal massage; however, many schools offer it as part of their curriculum or as a continuing education option. Certification in prenatal massage is available through many of these educational facilities, but it is not a formal requirement. However, a pregnant woman may feel more comfortable and confident if she knows that a therapist has some specialized training.


Women with certain conditions should not use massage for any reason during their pregnancy. These reasons include: a high-risk pregnancy or pregnancy with multiples, hypertension, preeclampsia, or a history of pre-term labor. Because there are additional risks associated with pregnancy,  therapists interested in working with pregnant patients should require written consent from a woman’s doctor before they start any regimen.

Although lactation consultation is typically considered safe at any point during a pregnancy, many therapists will not offer their services during the first trimester. Most of this precaution comes from the higher risk of miscarriage during the first three months of pregnancy; in order to avoid a potential lawsuit in the event of a miscarriage, most lactation consultation therapists find it safer to simply refuse their services for women in this state.