Topic Overview

Massage is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, including the skin
and muscles. Massage therapists usually apply pressure with their hands, but
they can also use their forearms, elbows, or feet. Some people believe that
massage works because the touch is healing. Touch also communicates a sense of

When you are pregnant, you can use massage therapy for relaxation and
to help relieve muscle tension and pain. But for massage to be safe during pregnancy, make sure that you:

  • Tell your massage therapist that you are
  • Avoid aromatherapy oils, some of which can be unsafe during pregnancy.
  • Avoid massage of your belly. Firm massage of the
    pregnant belly could cause serious pregnancy complications.
  • Talk
    with your massage therapist about your body position during massage. There are
    special tables for use during pregnancy.

    • As your pregnancy progresses, the best
      positions for you to be in are sitting on a chair or stool, or lying on your
      side (the left side is best later in pregnancy) during your
    • Starting in mid-pregnancy, avoid lying on your back. This
      will prevent extra weight from pressing on the major blood vessel called the
      vena cava.
    • After 12 weeks of pregnancy (or much earlier if you are
      carrying twins or more), avoid lying on your belly so you don’t increase strain
      and pressure on your uterus and low back.

Be sure that your massage therapist is specially trained in pregnancy
massage and is certified by your state or a national body, such as the American
Massage Therapy Association. This ensures that your massage therapist has a
certain level of training and uses certain practice guidelines.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017