Massage in pregnancy

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Catherine Le Nevez
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The arrival of a child is a really important event in a woman's life, and in addition to bringing a lot of joy, it also involves a series of not indifferent physical and mental changes. This is why indulging in a massage can be a great way to treat yourself a relaxing moment all to yourself. In fact, the scientific studies available suggest that massage can bring various benefits to the expectant mother.

Green light to massages during pregnancy then? Yes, but with some small precautions. Dr. Valentina, a gynecologist expert in natural medicine, explains everything.

In this article

  • the benefits of massages during pregnancy
  • massages and muscle and joint pains
  • massage to drain
  • massages and mood
  • massage of the perineum
  • precautions

The benefits of massages during pregnancy

During pregnancy it happens very often that a woman has back pain, swollen legs, headaches. The pain and fatigue could increase even more if you also have to look after one or more other children while you are expecting a baby. For relieve discomfort a nice massage would be needed, but can the pregnancy massage be done? According to scientific studies published in recent years there are no particular contraindications to massage during pregnancy, indeed, it would seem that prenatal massage can be really useful for the expectant mother.

"The massage during pregnancy brings with it numerous benefits - says Dr.ssa - it improves circulation, promotes the drainage of liquids, relaxes muscle tension. The massage acts at different levels, giving the woman a pleasant feeling of well-being".

The main benefits of massages during pregnancy are:

  • improved sleep and rest;
  • improvement of blood circulation;
  • reduction of anxiety and consequent improvement of the emotional state;
  • decreased pain in the legs and back;
  • reduction of muscle tension and joint pain;
  • reduction of swelling and water retention.
Read also: Insomnia in pregnancy, causes and remedies

A massage against muscle and joint pain

The subject of massages during pregnancy is not widely covered in the scientific literature, but all the studies published so far seem to confirm an improvement in leg and back discomfort in pregnant women. "Between the 20th and 30th week of pregnancy usually begin to appear muscle or joint pain - says the doctor - it is in this period in fact that the center of gravity shifts, causing possible lumbo-sciatica and pain in the lower back which can then also extend to the legs. In these cases the woman can turn to a physiotherapist or an osteopath to relieve the discomfort and to maintain a correct posture ".

Read also: Back pain in pregnancy

Massages to drain

Another valid help for future mothers is the draining massage, especially suitable for those who often hear them heavy legs. During the 9 months, in fact, fluid retention can become very annoying. In these cases it is possible to carry out a lymphatic drainage massage to relieve the pain produced byaccumulation of fluids and improve microcirculation. "The lymphatic drainage massage helps expectant mothers to feel their legs less tired and heavy, but it must be done with adroitness because important volumes of liquids can be mobilized. It is therefore better to proceed gradually, preferring light massages ", explains the doctor.

Read also: Swollen legs and feet in pregnancy

A massage can improve mood

During pregnancy, fatigue as well as physical can also be mental and it is important not to underestimate it. Again a massage could prove to be a good remedy for anxieties, stress and fears. Suffice it to say that in a study of a few years ago, on the benefits of massage in pregnancy for women with depression, it was highlighted:

  • an improvement in mood;
  • an increase in the levels of serotonin, the good mood hormone;
  • a decrease in cortisol levels, an indicator of stress.

We can therefore say that massage helps to rebalance the hormonal system. As evidenced in fact in another research, conducted about ten years ago and published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, in women who received bi-weekly massages for five weeks, the cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones) tended to decrease as levels increased Serotonin and dopamine.


When we engage in activities that we find particularly enjoyable, such as laughing, hugging someone, or playing sports, our body produces endorphins. The endorphins are some very special chemicals that contribute to improve mood and make us feel better, as well as having a pain relieving effect similar to that of morphine. Therefore, even the massage, being a moment of pleasant relaxation, is a good way to produce endorphins and to feel better immediately.

Read also: Stress in pregnancy: possible effects on the baby and remedies

The perineum massage

Massage, in addition to giving well-being and relieving discomfort, can also be useful for preparing the woman for childbirth. We are talking about the massage of the perineum, a practice that not all women know or practice, but which can be a valuable aid in preparation for childbirth. "The perineum massage can be done with the help of the partner or it can be performed directly by the obstetrician "explains the gynecologist." Thanks to the use of specific oils or water-based lubricants, it is possible to work on the skin, on the mucous membranes and also on the muscles of the pelvic floor which thus acquire flexibility and strength. "This type of massage is really useful for pregnant women because, as some scientific studies have shown, getting this area used to one graduated stretching helps reduce lacerations at delivery and the need for an episiotomy.

The benefits deriving from the various types of massages are numerous, but we know that each pregnancy is unique and for this reason it is always good ask your doctor for advice before carrying out a treatment of any kind.

Read also: Perineal massage, here's how it works

What to know before getting a massage

Generally, massages during pregnancy are not risky for the mother or for the baby she carries, but there are some precautions to take.

Situations at risk

Before getting a massage, according to the American Pregnancy Association, it's important to talk to your gynecologist if you have one or more of the following conditions:

  • previous preterm labor;
  • high-risk pregnancy;
  • preeclampsia;
  • sudden and severe headaches.

Some practitioners then refuse to massage a woman who is still in the first trimester of pregnancy for fear of a possible miscarriage.

Massage and the risk of miscarriage

Some doctors recommend waiting for the first trimester to finish before indulging in a relaxing massage. In fact, the relationship between massage and risk of miscarriage it has never been scientifically confirmed, but it is known that the first phase of pregnancy is also the most sensitive. As noted on the American Pregnancy Association website, "the first trimester carries an increased risk of miscarriage and some massage therapists / physiotherapists fear that the increased blood flow during a massage could be harmful."


Some types of massages, on the other hand, tend to be contraindicated in pregnancy. Here is a discussion on the massages to avoid during the nine months of waiting.

The correct position for the massage: no belly down

During the massage the preferred position is a belly up and towards the third quarter that On the side. The sitting position is also suitable for pregnant women. The important thing is that the woman's body is in a comfortable position, paying particular attention not to put pressure on the breasts and belly.

On the belly only touches

Better not to dwell too much on the belly during the massage to avoid uterine contractions. "Better to avoid massaging the area of ​​the uterus in an insistent way, even when spreading cream or oil at home - explains the doctor - because the uterus, being a muscular type organ, contracts if it is stimulated". In any case, those who are trained in massage should already know these things.

Read also: Uterus: how it turns in pregnancy and childbirth

Always rely on expert hands

It may seem trivial or obvious, but it is really important to rely on expert hands. Choose a certified prenatal masseur who knows how to meet your needs. Those used to treating pregnant women know that there are sensitive pressure points that can stimulate the uterus and therefore it is better not to touch.

The products to use for the massage

To perform the massage, oils or creams are often used to help the hands slide. "Be careful though, these oils may contain essential oils not indicated in pregnancy - specifies the gynecologist - better then bring your own massage oil which can be prepared in herbal medicine with a base of almond oil and possibly some essential oil that is not contraindicated, such as lemon or neroli for a tonic action, or lavender or rose to relax. "Avoid, however, the oils of thyme, verbene, sage, mugwort.

Obviously, a single contact with an unspecified oil has no consequences: if peace has happened. However, it is better to avoid repeating the contact.

Read also: Cosmetics in pregnancy: pass and fail

Sources used:

  • Advice from Dr. Valentina, gynecologist expert in natural medicine
  • American Pregnancy Association, Prenatal Massage Therapy

  • massages
  • wellness in pregnancy
  • sweet waiting
  • massage
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