Baby on Board, Stress in Tow? Discover the Magic of Prenatal Massage

For anyone who’s experienced pregnancy or supported a pregnant woman, we know how taxing the process of carrying a baby can be, both physically and emotionally. Massage therapy offers much-needed relief and nurturing support during this exciting – and sometimes stressful – time.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a dramatic transformation and this is reflected in changes in her posture, walking pattern and weight distribution. Her center of gravity shifts forward and her body compensates by increasing the curve of the lower back (lordosis) while shifting the head forward. This often leads to low back, neck and shoulder pain. Hormonal changes also soften various ligaments, which can put further strain on the low back and pelvis.

Massage can help alleviate stress on the weight-bearing joints of the hips, pelvis, knees, and ankles, and relieves soreness in the muscles that are supporting the additional weight of the baby. Massage helps to sooth and ease sore muscles throughout the neck, back, and hips. Massage also stimulates proprioceptivity, a person’s sense of awareness of their muscles and any tension they might be holding.

Research backs up what we already know: massage therapy nurtures the mother both physically and emotionally. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, “Twenty-six pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or relaxation therapy group for 5 weeks. Both groups reported feeling less anxious after the first session and less leg pain after the first and last session. Only the massage therapy group, however, reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the study.

Another study showed that “pregnant women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 hours shorter with less need for medication.”

All Heaven & Health therapists are trained in pregnancy massage, and Austin and Rebecca are specialized in this modality. Austin is a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist through the Institute of Somatic Therapy, and Rebecca is certified in pregnancy and postpartum massage through Nurturing the Mother with Claire Marie Miller.


What can I expect from a prenatal massage?

Any pregnancy massage is going to look a little different from your usual massage session. As with a regular massage, you will have a consultation with your therapist at the start of the session, discussing any concerns you have or areas of focus for the massage. You’ll undress to your comfort level and lie on the massage table (usually on your side) under a sheet and blanket, with a variety of pillows and bolsters to keep you comfortable. Your therapist will check in with you throughout the session regarding pressure and comfort. Be sure to let them know at any time if you experience discomfort or need to change position.

Is it safe to get a massage while pregnant?

While massage therapy is not only safe but much appreciated by most expectant mothers, women in high-risk pregnancies should consult with their doctor or midwife before receiving a massage. It is important to share a complete health history with your therapist during your initial consultation and to keep us updated of any changes to your health in subsequent treatment sessions.