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Massage Therapy & Pregnancy: Beneficial or Dangerous?

Pregnancy is a joyous time for the mother and family, but it can also be quite challenging, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Massage Therapy not only helps the soon-to-be mother with physical pain, but also emotionally by helping to regulate hormones such as cortisol, thereby reducing the stress on the baby.

According to, "Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health....Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health.In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care."

In addition to the information above, massage therapy during pregnancy also helps to reduce swelling, improve nerve pain, improve circulation, decrease joint pain, improve the quality of sleep, reduce muscle tension and headaches, and decrease back pain.

So obviously massage is great for a majority of people most of the time. But what about when it's not in regards to a pregnant woman?

Contraindications During Pregnancy:

A contraindicated situation for massage therapy, or a time in which one should not receive massage therapy (in regards to a pregnant woman) would include:

  • If the mother has preeclampsia,

  • It is a high-risk pregnancy or if they've ever had a high-risk pregnancy in the past;

  • Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH);

  • Previous pre-term labor;

  • Previous miscarriage or C-section

  • Currently experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches; or

  • She has recently given birth

Even if massage is not contraindicated for the mother, there are still certain strokes, points, or scents that the massage therapist cannot use because they are believed to induce labor. Some of these include:

  • Massaging the inner thigh (adductors) vigorously or for an extended period of time;

  • Using Lavender essential oil during the massage;

  • Pressing on the calcaneus or other contraindicated pressure points during the massage

For so many reasons, massage therapy is beneficial to both mother and baby. However, it's always best to consult your OBGYN prior to receiving a massage just to make sure that it is a healthy option for the mother and baby.

#massagetherapy #prenatalmassage #massagetherapistportland #portlandmassagetherapy #massagecontraindications

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