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Prenatal Massage: 4 Benefits According to Studies

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 23, 2023

Prenatal Massage: 4 Benefits According to Studies

Lower back pain here, leg cramps there. Mommies understand that being pregnant means experiencing some aches and discomforts, especially as the baby grows in their womb. The thought of easing the pains is what makes prenatal massage appealing to many pregnant women. But what exactly is prenatal massage, and is it safe for you and the baby? Find out here.

What Is Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage is a type of massage therapy specifically designed for pregnant women. It involves various massage techniques meant to reduce stress, ease swelling, and relieve pain.

Due to its sensitive nature, only a qualified therapist can give a prenatal massage. With their training, they know exactly how to position your body, what techniques to use, where to touch, and what areas to avoid.

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The Benefits of Prenatal Massage

Researchers conducted studies about the benefits of receiving pregnancy massage. They found that it can:

Reduce leg and back pain

As the baby grows in the womb, a woman’s posture typically adjusts to realign the center of gravity. This realigning, along with the added weight of the growing fetus, puts stress on the lower back.

One study titled, Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy, concluded that prenatal massage successfully decreased leg and back pain in participants. In the study, trained therapists provided 20-minute massages to pregnant mommies twice weekly for 5 weeks.

Ease swelling in the legs

Another common concern during pregnancy is swelling in the legs (edema). This usually happens because the growing uterus puts pressure on the veins of the legs, causing fluid to build up.

Reports highlight that foot massage using certain oils (grape seed and sweet almond) is effective in reducing pregnancy physiological edema.

prenatal massage

Relieve stress, anxiety, and depression

Pregnancy doesn’t just involve physical changes; in many cases, expectant moms also experience emotional ups and downs, including depression.

In one report, the researchers noted how several studies concluded that pregnancy massage is effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and even depression. They also revealed how depressed pregnant women who received prenatal massage experienced fewer complications.

Promote better sleep

And finally, it seems like prenatal massage also helps pregnant women who find it difficult to sleep.

Researchers concluded that massage is one of the non-pharmacological interventions associated with improved sleep in pregnant mommies. The others on the list are exercise and acupuncture.

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Is prenatal massage safe?

Some reports say that applying pressure to certain areas can trigger premature labor, but there are no studies to prove this claim yet.

To be on the safe side, talk to your doctor first before proceeding with anything. Experts say you should be especially careful if you:

  • Are in your first trimester
  • Have a history of abdominal pain and bleeding
  • Currently have a blood clotting condition
  • Are experiencing nausea, vomiting, or morning sickness
  • Have a high-risk pregnancy. For instance, you have conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc.
  • Are at risk of miscarriage

In the massage clinic, the therapist will most probably ask you to fill up a form where you can explain your health history in detail.  Some clinics also ask you to provide clearance from your doctor.

Another crucial reminder is to trust only a qualified pregnancy massage therapist. Ask for their prenatal massage certification and check if their clinic is well-equipped and hygienic.

During the massage, it’s important to relax. You don’t have to be self-conscious because a great massage therapist only has your comfort in mind. If, at any point, you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to tell the therapist right away.

Key Takeaways

Prenatal massage is a type of massage therapy specifically designed for pregnant women. Studies show that it is beneficial in reducing pain, swelling, and emotional distress. It might also be able to improve the quality of sleep during pregnancy.

You must check if the therapist who’s going to give you the massage is qualified.

Finally, talk to your doctor first before proceeding with anything, especially if they have an underlying condition.

Learn more about Being Pregnant here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 23, 2023

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