Massage during pregnancy could do wonders for your health and wellbeing. Reducing your stress levels, relieving muscle aches and even rejuvenating your energy are just some of the possible benefits. Some mothers say that pregnancy massage even helps them to feel more connected with their growing baby.
Massage is generally safe for most pregnant women. However, the safety of massages in the first trimester has often been an area of controversy. Because of this, some massage therapists refuse to give pregnant women a massage until after the first trimester (12 weeks).
If you are experiencing lots of morning sickness and fatigue in your first trimester, you might not even feel like a massage. Lying on your tummy could make you feel more nauseated. Consider whether your time and money might be better spent on a massage later in your pregnancy when you are feeling better and may enjoy it more.
If you are interested in getting a massage before you’re 12 weeks pregnant, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare professional first. Before you book in for a massage, first ask whether a massage might pose any risks to your health and the progress of your pregnancy.
Check the training and experience of the massage therapist. Some are more experienced with pregnancy massage.
The problem with massages in early pregnancy
The main reason massage is considered risky during the first trimester is because of the increased risk of miscarriage in this time. After 12 weeks, most pregnant women’s’ risk of miscarriage is significantly reduced.
The first trimester is also the critical time when your baby’s major organs are developing. Some healthcare professionals and massage therapists don’t recommend mothers’ take the risk of having a massage during this important period.
Another risk is that some massage oils are contraindicated for use during pregnancy. There is a potential for them to cross over into the placenta.
At any time in your pregnancy, you should consult your healthcare professional about getting a massage if you:
- Are experiencing excessive nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- Are at high risk of miscarriage
- Have a high-risk pregnancy
- Have high blood pressure
- Are experiencing any sudden swelling or breathing problems
- Have any other pregnancy concerns
Your safest option
If you do book in a massage during early pregnancy, it’s important to keep your own and your baby’s safety in mind.
Let the massage therapist know you are pregnant. Also, how far along you are.
Always book in with a trained and certified masseuse with experience in massaging pregnant women. Your healthcare professional might be able to recommend an appropriately trained person.
Take notice of the position your massage therapist suggests as you lay down. Depending on how pregnant you are, different positions will be safer and more comfortable to lie in.
Lying on your side with a pillow to support your belly is usually the preferred and safest option. However, in early pregnancy, before 22 weeks, it’s generally safe for pregnant mothers to lie on their back.
After 22 weeks, you should avoid lying flat on your back. This is because the weight of your belly and growing baby is likely to put pressure on your blood vessels and restrict the flow of blood and nutrients to your baby.
Because blood volume will almost double during pregnancy, it's also best to avoid getting a deep tissue massage or any other type of strong massage. These techniques could affect your circulation and blood pressure and may put you and your baby at risk.
If you feel uncomfortable or experience any pain during a massage, politely ask your therapist to focus on another area or stop altogether. Every pregnancy is unique and the best way to know if something is good for you and your baby is to listen to your body.
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Last Published* July, 2023
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.