Women's Healthcare Topics

Is it Safe to Get a Prenatal Massage Late in Pregnancy?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Prenatal Massage

Pregnancy brings with it a variety of side effects, some less pleasant than others. All pregnant women can expect to experience at least a little stiffness and muscular tension during their pregnancy as their uterus expands to accommodate their growing baby.

Fortunately there is a simple and effective way to not only treat some of the side effects of pregnancy but also leave you feeling great. Massage therapy during pregnancy can often relieve many of the common side effects of pregnancy, whether you suffer from backaches, headaches, edema or other pregnancy related problems.

Prenatal massage is increasingly gaining popularity as pregnant women begin recognizing the benefits prenatal massage has to offer women during pregnancy. Back pain is one of the more common side effects of pregnancy. Back pain can continue throughout pregnancy and even after. If you have to carry around other small children you may find your symptoms exacerbated during pregnancy.

Fortunately massage can help relieve back pain associated with muscular tension. Here are just a few of the other benefits prenatal massage has to offer:

    Learn about getting a message during pregnancy.
  • Prenatal massage helps relieve edema or swelling by stimulating circulation throughout the body.

  • Leg massage can help reduce leg cramps and swelling in the legs.

  • Massage is very beneficial for relaxing anxiety during pregnancy.

  • Massage can help promote more restful sleep and help prevent pregnancy related insomnia.

  • Pregnancy massage may relax your baby, particularly if you have your abdomen gently stroked.

It is vital however that you seek the assistance of a qualified professional who offers massage during pregnancy. Massaging the wrong areas or focusing on certain acupressure points may actually trigger uterine contractions in some women. Fortunately massage therapists trained in prenatal massage know exactly what areas to avoid and what areas to focus on to provide pregnant women the most benefits during a massage therapy session. Toward the end of your pregnancy you might consider a prenatal massage to relax you during labor or even help strengthen your contractions!

Before signing up for a massage you might check in with your healthcare provider to be sure your doctor approves massage in your condition. Most physicians will gladly recommend a massage, but may recommend the massage therapist avoid massaging your lower back or abdomen.

A Word On Aromatherapy

Some massage therapists use aromatherapy oils during a massage session. While many aromatherapy oils are safe to use during pregnancy, others are contraindicated. Again, be sure you consult with a qualified massage therapist so you do not end up inhaling oils that may be contraindicated during pregnancy. Some women find essential oils off-putting, particularly during their first trimester. If this is the case just let your massage therapist know ahead of time so you can enjoy a fragrance free massage therapy session!

There are some essential oils that are beneficial during pregnancy. Many can help relieve anxiety and tension while still others are useful for relieving bloating and headaches. Here is a list of essential oils that may be helpful during pregnancy:

  • Tangerine
  • Lemon
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Mandarin

Other essential oils including the following should be avoided during pregnancy for their contraction stimulating properties:

  • Arnica
  • Clary sage
  • Fennel
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper

This list is by no means comprehensive. Be sure again when in doubt to consult with a qualified therapist. If you have any concerns or doubts stick to a massage session without the use of massage oils. Either way you're bound to find the experience relaxing and stress relieving!


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