Truths and Myths Surrounding Prenatal Massage.

One of the most rewarding parts of working with specialized populations such as expectant moms, is dispelling common myths about what type of massage is and is not appropriate for them. In many of my lectures about prenatal work, my first comment to the therapists in my class is, “Pregnant women are not sick! It’s Ok to touch them!” This opening line stems from the hundreds of comments I have received from prenatal clients expressing frustration with the timid, fearful touch they have received in previous prenatal massage experiences. While caution is absolutely necessary in working with prenatal clients in particular, I find that my prenatal clients are not nearly as fragile as most textbooks and teachers make them out to be. Especially our female athletes. In fact, a woman’s activity level before and during pregnancy is a great indicator of what kind of intensity is appropriate during her session. Here is a short list of some considerations for expectant moms and how therapists can work with them.

1.) One of the big concerns with pregnant women is their propensity for blood clots. There is a possibility of a therapist dislodging a clot and that can cause other complications. But in women who are more active, their blood is already being circulated more aggressively, so that risk is minimized. Also by using slower techniques, the therapist can deliver effective work without putting their client at any increased risk.

2.) Another factor to consider during pregnancy is the little extra elasticity present in tissue created by the presence of a hormone called relaxin. Again, if a women was not very active or strong before pregnancy, this could be minor cause for concern as any aggressive manipulation could cause instability in her joints. But in the instance of our athletes who were probably lacking a little bit in flexibility before pregnancy, this risk is very minimal.

3.) One of my absolute favorites that I hear about often is the potential to induce labor by massaging the feet or other acupressure points in the body. At Loosen Up we have been offering what we call an “induction massage” where if the mom is at least 38 weeks along and has no complications, we will put a little extra focus on activating the points and reflexology zones associated with inducing labor. We have had some moms go into labor shortly after leaving our facility but many women don’t go into labor for another day or two or some even still need to be induced. So while many therapists are very apprehensive around these areas, even with intense focus on these points, rarely do women go into labor from working on them.

So many women are participating in advanced level competitive sports now and our previously-held notions of women as these “delicate flowers” who should just rest and stay indoors need to be crushed. The health benefits of activity and a good massage greatly outweigh the minimal risks. The bottom line is that every person and every pregnancy is different and women should be encouraged to explore what works best for them and their families and not be told that they should be fearful of what feels appropriate for them.

What is Prenatal Massage?

Walnut Creek Pregnancy MassageWho better deserves and needs a great massage than a mother-to-be?

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time in a woman’s life, on the physical level as well as on the emotional. Prenatal massage is beneficial for both the body and the mind by increasing the blood and lymph circulation, relaxing the body and easing the mind.

Prenatal massage relieves common pregnancy symptoms including muscle cramps, spasms and myofascial pain of the lower back, neck, shoulders, hips and legs, swelling of the extremities (arms, hands, legs and feet), sleep difficulties and the psychological turmoil (stress, anxiety, fear and restlessness).

Many independent studies have conclusively shown that the positively beneficial effects of massage therapy during pregnancy also benefit the growing child in the mother’s womb as well as resulting in an easier labor and in a less painful delivery.


What is the difference between Pregnancy Massage and any other massage?

Well, there are a number of very important differences which should not be overlooked. And due to those differences, therapists who perform massage therapy on pregnant women must be specially trained and certified accordingly, and they must always take those extra few precautionary measures:

  • Pregnancy Massage should not be performed until the first trimester of the pregnancy has been concluded because the increased blood circulation may lead to dizziness and a worsening of the existing morning sickness symptoms.


  • Positioning of the pregnant woman is detrimental to her safety and the safety of the child she is carrying. The pregnant woman should lie on her side and switch sides in midsession to make both her hips available for the massage treatment. A wide variety of pillows (body pillows and extra padding pillows) set in a few strategic places under the pregnant womans body can greatly add to her comfort.


  • Important safety measures: The pregnant woman must never lie directly on her belly and the flat, horizontal table with the hole for the belly must never be used as it inflicts too much stress on her lower back.

  • There are certain parts of the pregnant woman’s body that must never be massaged or pressed; both sides of the ankles as well as the webbing between the thumbs and the index fingers are pressure points that can induce early labor when exposed to sustained pressure.



For the great majority of the time, Pregnancy Massages are perfectly safe and much advised. However under certain very specific conditions Pregnancy Massages should not be attempted without consulting a medical specialist and those conditions may be: women who are at risk of preterm labor and women with blood clots or related blood clotting disorders.


Loosen Up Bodywork has two massage therapists specializing in prenatal massage. Call (925) 289-9750 to schedule your appointment or order a gift certificate or book a prenatal massage appointment online.