Four Benefits of Prenatal Massage

November 13, 2019
Like any other massage, prenatal massage can help reduce stress and anxiety and lower back and leg pain. However, it isn't recommended in all cases. Read on!

Like any other massage, prenatal massage aims for the mind and body relaxation, relieving pain, and making pregnant women feel better. However, are you aware of its benefits?

Prenatal massage

The only difference between a regular and prenatal massage is that the latter is ideal for pregnant women. Tus, this type of massage takes into account the peculiarities and changes that occur in pregnant women. Therefore, the professional adapts the techniques to them. That means the prenatal masseur takes into account that, during pregnancy, the center of gravity shifts, causing the neck, back, and shoulders to be subjected to greater stress. The same applies to the lower back, that’s more strained during those months due to weight gain.

Overall, the purpose of prenatal massage is to relieve these muscles and body parts to reduce discomfort and pain. Also, like any other massage, it’s purpose is also to make you feel better, relaxing you and releasing stress and tension.

The benefits of prenatal massage

1. It lowers stress and anxiety levels.

A pregnant woman in bed.

After a prenatal massage session, pregnant women feel lower stress levels and enjoy a more restful sleep.

Various studies have been able to verify the effectiveness of prenatal massage concerning reducing stress and anxiety levels in pregnant women. Indeed, pregnant volunteers who got a 20-minute prenatal massage for five weeks reported less stress from the first session.

The group of pregnant women who had gotten these messages indicated that their mood had improved, that their anxiety levels were lower, and that they enjoyed a more restful sleep. Moreover, these benefits are also associated with lower postpartum depression rates.

We recommend that you read: Sleeping on Your Side Reduces the Risk of Fetal Death

2. It reduces back pain.

One of the most common complaints during pregnancy is back and lower back pain. Indeed, weight gain and the pressure of the baby can strain the muscles, making the pregnant women suffer from aches and pains. Also, the baby’s development makes the uterus increase its size and the center of gravity shifts. Thus, the position of pregnant women changes. Consequently, the back and lower back muscles are overloaded.

In this sense, prenatal massages can help reduce excessive strain on these muscles and relax them. Some studies show that the application of this type of massage can help reduce lower back pain.

3. It reduces foot and leg pain.

A pregnant woman with leg pain.

A leg massage can help reduce pressure in this area due to weight gain and fluid retention.

Like low back pain, many pregnant women also suffer from sore legs and feet. This is especially common during the last trimester. During pregnancy, blood flow increases and weight gain constricts the veins and arteries. Then, this affects blood flow. If you add the fluid retention and tiredness characteristic of pregnancy, it’s normal for pregnant women to suffer from tired legs and even cramps.

To prevent this discomfort, it’s best to maintain normal hydration levels and walk to avoid a sedentary life. Also, doctors recommend you practice relaxation techniques and stretch the affected muscles. In this sense, prenatal massages help reduce problems. This is because they seek general relaxation of all the muscles and also of the leg muscles.

4. Prenatal massages reduce the risk of premature delivery.

Depression and anxiety during pregnancy may come with a higher risk of fetal activity and premature delivery. Some studies show that prenatal massages can reduce cortisol levels. Fortunately, this may lead to reduced stress and anxiety levels and alleviates depression.

In turn, depressed pregnant women who got prenatal massages indicated less fetal activity and a reduced rate of premature deliveries. Moreover, the benefits aren’t limited to the mother. The newborns of mothers who got prenatal massages also enjoyed lower cortisol levels!

This article may interest you: Tips to Manage Postpartum Depression and Stress

Precautions regarding prenatal massage

A pregnant woman at a medical checkup.

Your doctor may let you know the type of massages you should get and whether or not they’re good for you.

Although prenatal massages have many benefits and pose virtually no health risks, doctors do not recommend them in many cases:

  • In multiple or risky pregnancies.
  • In hypertensive pregnant women or pregnant women with heart or clotting problems.
  • If there’s vaginal bleeding or placental abruption.
  • If there’s vomiting, fever, or diarrhea.

Therefore, when it comes to deciding whether or not you should get a prenatal massage, you must:

  • Consult your doctor regarding whether it’s a good idea for your particular case. Ask about the best kind of massage you should get, and in what areas you should get it.
  • Always consult a specialist in this type of massage. Only a specialist knows how to do the massage, in what areas, what pressure to apply, and in what position.
  • Tiffany Field, “Pregnancy and labor massage”, Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar; 5(2): 177–181.
  • Grote NK, Bridge JA, Gavin AR, Melville JL, Iyengar S, Katon WJ. “A Meta-analysis of Depression During Pregnancy and the Risk of Preterm Birth, Low Birth Weight, and Intrauterine Growth Restriction”. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(10):1012–1024. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.111
  • Tiffany Field et al. “Massage therapy reduces pain in pregnant women, alleviates prenatal depression in both parents and improves their relationships”, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2008) 12, 146–150
  • T. Field, M. Hemandez-Reif, S. Hart, H. Theakston, S. Schanberg & C. Kuhn (1999) “Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy”, Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20:1, 31-38, DOI: 10.3109/01674829909075574