Massage is great for your body all the time but when your body is going through the many changes of pregnancy it can be especially rewarding. If you’re a new mom-to-be, chances are you have a mix of excitement and anxiety.

Massage is shown to help decrease stress and anxiety levels and of course, it feels great! The benefits are not just for mom but for her baby too.

A relaxed mom means a happy and nourished baby. So if you’re thinking of getting a prenatal massage or know someone who might need one, here’s everything you need to know.

Before You Go

Your therapist may ask you to get approval from your doctor before you receive a massage. Although massage is a very low-risk treatment, there may be changes occurring with your specific pregnancy that your doctor would need to make your therapist aware of. Your doctor can also tell you if you are a high-risk pregnancy and should avoid massage altogether. Since the first trimester of pregnancy is the biggest risk for miscarriage many therapists prefer not to work with a client during this time.

What To Expect

Prenatal massage is generally done in a side-lying position for maximum comfort and safety of the client. The client lies on their side with their top leg over a stack of pillows or a body pillow. Often the client will hug a pillow to their chest for comfort and draping.

The client remains covered and is only undraped in the area being worked on. The massage consists generally of Swedish massage techniques which are gentle stroking motions used in most massages.

Certain areas are specifically avoided during a prenatal massage because they are said to stimulate the uterus, however unless consistent pressure is applied to those areas, there are not likely to be any negative effects. Ankles, specific points on the feet and some areas of the wrist are avoided or massaged very gently for these reasons.

Benefits of Prenatal Massage

The American Pregnancy Association cites studies that show that biweekly massages in pregnant women greatly decreased their production in stress hormones which in turn led to fewer complications during pregnancy and birth. Women who received regular massage during pregnancy also had shorter labors and easier births.

Another benefit of prenatal massage is a decrease in swelling around joints. Massage helps move blood and fluids through the body which helps reduce swelling. Prenatal massage is also helpful for sciatic nerve pain, which can be triggered or increased during pregnancy due to extra strain on tendons and ligaments.

Prenatal massage also has all the great benefits of regular massages too like better sleep, decreased pain, decreased anxiety, better circulation, and better immune function.