Let’s talk about prenatal massages. It’s a ticket to much-needed relaxation for expectant mothers.

The concept might sound simple—a professional massage tailored specifically for pregnant women—but it’s much more. This special kind of therapy goes beyond mere pampering.

Prenatal massages are crafted to adjust as your client’s pregnancy journey progresses.

From carrying extra weight to battling those infamous leg cramps at night, your pregnant clients will quickly understand the benefits of a prenatal massage.

Learn more about the benefits of prenatal massage and additional considerations for each trimester of pregnancy.

What Is a Prenatal Massage?

A prenatal massage provides relief where expectant moms need it most—sore backs, swollen ankles, and those pesky tension spots that seem to pop up everywhere as their body changes.

Trained therapists use special techniques and positions to ensure safety and comfort for both mama-to-be and baby on board.

Why do these sessions help? They ease discomfort associated with pregnancy so that expectant mothers can focus on being excited about their little one’s arrival.

With a range of different techniques, prenatal massages can be personalized to provide a profusion of pain relief benefits for expectant mothers.

What are the Benefits of a Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage provides many of the same general benefits you would expect from any form of massage, such as Swedish massage. These benefits include:

  • Stress Reduction: Carrying a little human inside you can be as stressful as beautiful. Unfortunately, prolonged stress can be dangerous for you and your baby. A prenatal massage works wonders here by lowering cortisol levels and boosting serotonin to help you relax.
  • Better Sleep: It’s no secret that massage can contribute to better sleep at night and pregnancy is no exception. Opting for prenatal massages boosts blood flow and promotes relaxation, which contributes to better sleep at night.
  • Pain Relief: Oh boy—back pain, leg cramps…the whole nine yards. Fortunately, prenatal massage is specifically targeted to ease muscle tension and joint pain because nobody should have to waddle through pregnancy in constant discomfort.
  • Boost immune system: Increasing lymph flow can lead to better immunity, which will protect you from illness during pregnancy.

While prenatal massages offer several benefits for soon-to-be mothers, there are special considerations that each therapist and client should weigh before performing a prenatal massage/

What Massages Are Allowed for a Prenatal Massage?

Not all prenatal massages are created equal. And yes, they differ by trimester because your client’s body needs to change as your baby grows.

First Trimester:

  • Gentle Swedish-Style Massage: This is the go-to. Crafted to enhance blood flow and ease muscle tightness gently, it avoids applying excessive force.

Second Trimester:

  • Side-lying deep Tissue Massage: As your client’s belly grows, lying on her side becomes comfier. A skilled therapist can still target those sore spots with more focused techniques.

Third Trimester:

  • Lymphatic Drainage Massage: Is your client feeling a bit swollen? This mild approach diminishes fluid buildup by nurturing lymph circulation throughout the body.
  • Reflexology (Foot Only): Your client’s feet bear the brunt of pregnancy weight gain. Some targeted foot therapy can be blissful relief.

Prenatal Massage Concerns and Considerations

Always have your client consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new massage routine during pregnancy. What feels good in one trimester might not be right for another or require modifications based on individual health concerns.

For mothers with a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and other ailments, their healthcare provider may advise them to avoid a prenatal massage altogether. Be sure to ask clients if they have any documented risks or complications before performing a massage.

Likewise, certain areas of the body should be avoided–most obviously, the belly. However, performing a deep tissue massage in the legs may be dangerous because pregnant mothers are at higher risk of blood clots.

While some reflexology techniques are advantageous, there is some concern that certain trigger points can elevate a client’s risk for miscarriage or preterm labor. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up.

Prenatal Massage Techniques and Essentials

Performing prenatal massages should encourage comfort and safety, such as supporting the body with soft pillows or bolsters. The techniques vary but always aim to relieve tension and promote relaxation. Below are two types of safe massages used during a prenatal massage.

  • Swedish Massage: The gentle strokes of a Swedish massage make it perfectly suited for pregnant mothers who want to feel relaxed.
  • Deep Tissue: Deep tissue massage can be safe and effective, especially when applied to the right areas, such as the shoulders and lower back. However, deep strokes should be avoided on the legs, as pregnant mothers carry a higher risk of clotting.

Aromatherapy and the use of safe essential oils can also be beneficial additions to any massage. Unfortunately, not all essential oils are good for your client during pregnancy. WebMD provides a list of safe and adverse essential oils for pregnancy.

How to Reduce Safety Risks

Ensuring safety for the mother and baby is the highest priority of any massage therapist.

First, communication is key. Before those hands ever touch your client’s shoulders, make sure you ask some questions. Here are some thoughts.

  • Talk about discomforts: If your client feels something odd during the massage, ask them to speak up immediately.
  • Ask about risks and complications: Has your client been diagnosed as having a higher risk of hypertension or pre-eclampsia? These are essential concerns when undergoing a prenatal massage.
  • Know timing: Find out how far along mothers are so that you can personalize a massage plan to tackle specific concerns.
  • Pick the right position: Side-lying positions are best after the first trimester.
  • Avoid certain spots: There are pressure points in ankles and wrists linked with inducing labor. For this reason, performing reflexology must be taken with special consideration.

The journey towards motherhood is stressful enough. Prenatal massage can reduce that stress and make your client’s life much more relaxed.

Take extra precautions when performing a prenatal massage and encourage clients to be open and transparent before booking any appointments.


Is prenatal massage safe during all trimesters of pregnancy?

Prenatal massage can be safe at any stage during pregnancy. However, the farther along a mother gets, the more precautions a therapist has to take. Likewise, clients need to communicate with healthcare providers before receiving a massage to protect their safety.

How often should expectant mothers receive prenatal massage?

This one varies from mom to mom. Generally speaking, once or twice a month can work wonders for managing stress and relieving common discomforts like backaches and headaches.

What qualifications should I look for in a prenatal massage therapist?

  • Certification: Find somebody with a proper massage therapy degree who is trained or certified in prenatal massage.
  • Experience: Ask about their experience working with pregnant clients.
  • Listens well: Choose someone who hears your concerns and customizes your session accordingly.

What is the difference between a regular massage and a prenatal massage?

Prenatal massages are tailored for expectant moms. Techniques adapt for safety, focusing on comfort and avoiding deep pressure.

Do you lay down for a prenatal massage?

You don’t lie flat. Instead, you’ll be positioned with pillows or specially designed cushions for support and comfort.

Do you keep clothes on for prenatal massage?

Clothing can stay on based on your comfort level but usually involves partial undressing to access tension spots effectively.