Massage therapy during pregnancy - is it safe?


This question was presented to me a few weeks ago. And I seriously didn't know for sure what the answer should be. I do now. Not only is it safe - it is very good for both the pregnant mom and the baby. 

Below are some research articles showing this to be true.

I began doing more research about pregnancy and nursing mothers fairly recently while our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our second awesome grandson. Prior to that most of my research had centered around what essential oils and other personal care products should be used during pregnancy. Since that time one of our very good friends has arrived at her due date - which could be any day now. I was asked if I could make an oil for her labor. Being ignorant of this natural birth method, I began to do some research into how the oil (vegetable oil, not essential oil) is used and, of course, ended up with a huge amount of information about doula's, mid-wives, lactation  educators and more. I have to admit I mourned for more than just a few days that all of this wasn't available to me when I was pregnant 38 years ago as I contemplated what I had missed, and more importantly what my daughter had missed. Maybe she wouldn't have been born with colic and eczema?  I was told NOT to nurse, which was the prevailing "wisdom" given by doctors then, or perhaps it was the part of the country in which I lived. I was also encouraged to NOT have natural birth - "for heaven's sakes why would you want that when we can make it perfectly painless." Good grief.


In one study, women who were in prenatal classes were divided into two groups, one group to receive massage and coaching in breathing during labor and the other group to receive coaching in breathing only. At the end of the study, the mothers who received the massage indicated less depressed mood, anxiety and pain than the other group. They also had less anxiety after the first massage following labor, less time in the hospital and less postpartum depression.(1)  This is huge. I don't know if essential oils were incorporated in this or not, but I do know they would definitely be beneficial.


In yet another study, pregnant women who reported being depressed were randomly divided into three groups: A massage therapy group, a progressive muscle relaxation group and a regular prenatal group with no additional therapies added. Trained massage therapists taught the massage to the ‘significant others’ of the women, who then conducted the twice-weekly massages for the 16-week period. The results of the study showed that the massage therapy group reported less anxiety and depression, as well as less leg and back pain. To add to that, this group had higher levels of neurotransmitters that create good mood (serotonin and dopamine) and less neurotransmitters that indicate stress and anxiety (cortisol and norepinephrine.) These findings were believed to have correlated with better neonatal outcome and less chance of premature or low birthweight babies. To see in more detail the protocol that was used please email me. 

Tell me, did you receive massage therapy during your pregnancy? If so, I'd love to hear how it worked for you - and your baby.

Thanks for listening!