Most people envision soothing music, a perinatal massage therapist tenderly rubbing your muscles, and essential oil-infused steam. While this isn’t inaccurate, massage can have tremendous health benefits as well, particularly for pregnant mamas.
As you begin your pregnancy journey, you’ve probably been advised to keep your stress level at a minimum. While that can be difficult (especially when your body and life are going through so many changes!), massage can help—and what mama doesn’t love a little R&R? Here, we’ll dive into the benefits of massage during the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods.
Lower anxiety and stress through muscle work
Massage is beneficial for women’s health, no matter if you’re trying to get pregnant or not. It promotes calm and relaxation, so it doesn’t hurt to seek out a massage therapist at any point in your life!
For women trying to conceive, there is no evidence that getting a fertility massage increases your chances of pregnancy. However, it also can’t hurt. During a fertility massage, the massage therapist deeply massages the abdomen to promote blood flow to the reproductive organs. They also may pay close attention to acupuncture points in the feet which correspond with the uterus and ovaries.
Prenatal massages are a great way to relax and ease sore muscles—after the first trimester. Instead of lying on your back and stomach like you do during a traditional massage, prenatal massages cater to your growing body. The massage therapist will have you lay on either your stomach (with a hole for the baby belly that allows you to remain comfy) or on your side, propped up by cushions.
Regular prenatal massages may release tension, muscle pain, and swelling as well as keep your lymphatic system in tip-top condition as it flushes out toxins from your body.
Note: To be safe, check with your doctor before you schedule a prenatal massage, just in case you have any symptoms that could make it risky (diabetes, bleeding, preeclampsia, etc.).
Postpartum can be extremely beneficial to new mamas! According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Massage is well known for relaxation, stress reduction, pain relief, and other health benefits. Unique postpartum benefits include hormone regulation, reduced swelling, better sleep, and improved breastfeeding. More advanced therapy helps restore your body to its pre-pregnancy condition, speeds healing and assists with C-section recovery.”
Before you book a postpartum massage, be sure to check with your doctor to get the “go ahead” if you’ve had any post-pregnancy complications.
In addition to massage for mamas, some massage therapists offer infant massage classes. These are great for baby relaxation and bonding with new dads!
In the United States, all but five states require massage therapists to be licensed. Each state has different parameters in place. We highly recommend that you choose a massage therapist who is seasoned in maternal health, trained in prenatal and/or postnatal massage, and board-certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) to ensure you’re receiving proper care.
Most women are clear to book after they’ve completed their first trimester. Double check with your healthcare provider first if you’ve had any symptoms such as high blood pressure or spotting.
While there is not scientific evidence to support this theory, it certainly can’t hurt to try since a massage can boost your endorphins and reduce stress.
The cost of a massage varies. The average visit is $75-$150, but can be higher for fertility or pregnancy-focused massage. Check with your provider to see if massage falls under your coverage!