Is It Safe To Get A Massage While Pregnant?

Being pregnant can come with many discomforts. Common aches and pains include headaches, abdominal pain, and back and leg pain (via Medline Plus). Pregnancy may also be a time you experience mental health challenges such as new or worsening stress, anxiety, or depression. If a pain or mental wellness concern is new or worries you, it is always wise to check in with your healthcare provider who can provide you with medications and treatments options tailored for your particular needs. However, there are also other solutions you may be interested in trying.

A massage may be one source of relief during pregnancy and like many activities during pregnancy, you may be wondering if a massage is safe. The good news is that receiving a massage can be safe and beneficial during pregnancy, according to Healthline. However, before getting a massage, there are a few things to consider.

Find a trained specialist

The risk of miscarriage is highest during the first trimester. For this reason, many practices will avoid performing prenatal massages during the first trimester (via American Pregnancy Association). But there is little to no data to support this concern, Healthline reports. However, massage could make morning sickness and nausea worse, so those may become important factors in whether or not you choose to get massages. 

It is also essential to get care from someone trained to work on pregnant individuals. A massage therapist certified in prenatal massage therapy has received additional training beyond their initial massage therapist training. As a result, they understand how to minimize risks and understand proper positioning. For example, the safest position for a pregnant person to receive a massage is typically on their side (per American Pregnancy Association). Proper positioning ensures there is no pressure on the abdomen, which can cause stretching or strain to the uterine ligaments. Sitting upright in a semi-reclined position may also be a safe option, according to Healthline. Before getting a massage, ask if the therapist is certified in prenatal massage to keep you safe and comfortable.

The risks and benefits

While it is important to understand the potential risks involved, there are numerous benefits to receiving a prenatal massage. A 2021 review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found many benefits of prenatal massage, including: decreased depression, stress, and anxiety, reduced aches and pains common during pregnancy, lower rates of premature birth, higher birth weight in the infant, improved immune function, reduced headaches, and improved sleep. It may even decrease your labor time and pain for those who receive a massage or acupressure during labor, according to Healthline.

While massages during pregnancy are generally considered safe, it is always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before getting one, as there are potential complications of prenatal massage to be aware of. During pregnancy, individuals are more likely to develop blood clots, according to the Journal of Clinical Medicine. Thus, it is crucial the massage therapist does not provide deep tissue massage of the arms and especially not on the legs. Deep tissue massage could release a clot. 

It's important to note that the risks may outweigh the benefits, particularly in high-risk or complicated pregnancies. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you decide if any conditions you're experiencing during pregnancy make receiving a prenatal massage too risky.