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Effect of Massages During Pregnancy

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health
Wordcount: 851 words Published: 21st Sep 2017

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Nikita S. Windham

Pregnancy and Massage

Research has discovered new information that maybe something can be done to help make pregnancy more tolerable that is not only safe but also effective. This solution is known as prenatal massage. Prenatal massage simply put is massage that is personalized specifically to the ever-changing bodies of pregnant women.

One benefit of prenatal massage is that it can bring relief to aching muscles and joints. During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity is shifted. This new distribution of weight can put pressure on joints and cause muscles to ache. Massage can provoke the body to release endorphins, which are a natural pain reliever. (Nguyen, 2017)

Along with relieving pain, the release of endorphins also contributes to calming the nervous system. The parasympathetic, or “rest and digest”, system is activated. This allows for better sleep and digestion, which in turn plays a part in decreased stress levels and improved mood. (Nyugen, 2017)

Prenatal massage also increases blood circulation. This helps to reduce swelling (edema) and stiffness in muscles as more blood flow travels to those areas. Increased circulation also means that more oxygen and nutrients are pumped to the mother and ultimately the baby. This blood flow stimulates the lymph system, which in turn boosts immunity and toxin elimination. (Nyugen, 2017)

Cautions and Contraindications

Despite all the many benefits of prenatal massage, there are some instances where massage becomes inadvisable due to the potential harm that it could cause to the mother and baby. Circumstances in which massage should not be given can include sudden migraines, high blood pressure, edema from high blood pressure, preeclampsia, a history of preterm labor, and high-risk pregnancy. (Yogawiz, 2016)

High-risk pregnancy can refer to certain conditions such as gestational diabetes, eclampsia, and heart conditions. Pregnant women under 15 or older than 35 and women carrying multiple babies are also considered high risk. Regardless, it is always best for the mother to consult with her doctor before attempting to receive a massage. (Cutler, 2014)

Prenatal Massage Controversy

There has been much controversy over what areas can and cannot be massaged during certain trimesters of pregnancy. There are specific reflexology points on the body that many have argued should not be pressed or massaged. The ankle is said to be the reflexology point that stimulates uterine contractions. Per Haller, “there was a great study in 2014 in which researchers attempted to induce labor in 221 post-due date women by applying acupuncture needles. Even when poking these gals every other day for a week, none of the findings supported reflexology claims”. (2015)

There is also confusion over whether massage in the first trimester should avoided. It has been said that if a woman is massaged within the first trimester, it could potentially cause a miscarriage. Some sources say that there is no scientifically proven evidence that shows massage causes miscarriage. These sources say that contrary to popular belief, gentle massage can actually be soothing and comforting to both the baby and mother. (Soto, 2013)

Despite all the conflicting ideas about massage during pregnancy, one thing can be agreed upon. Prenatal massage should be both beneficial and relaxing for the expectant mother. Pregnancy itself is already difficult, so this therapeutic touch can be a form of nurturing support for the soon to be mom.


Contraindications Of Pregnancy Massage. (2016). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.yogawiz.com/massage-therapy/pregnancy-massage/pregnancy-massage-contraindications.html#continued

Cutler, N. (2014, March 18). High-Risk Pregnancy: Massage Caution or Contraindication? Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2010/05/high-risk_pregn.html

Haeller, R. (2015, November 30). Debunking Pregnancy Massage Myths. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://momsintow.com/news/debunking_pregnancy_massage_myths

Soto, M. L. (2013, September 19). Dispelling the Myth of Avoiding First Trimester Massage. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://elementsmassage.com/park-ridge/blog/dispelling-the-myth-of-avoiding-first-trimester-massage

Nguyen, Y. (2017, February 02). Prenatal Massage: Get Relief for Your Aches and Pains. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage-get-relief-your-aches-and-pains


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