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Pregnancy Safe Massage

Libby Borman
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio + Massage Yokine.

A woman’s body goes through some amazing changes during pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus within the uterus and abdominal area. Unfortunately, many aches and pain can come along with the changes in body weight, shape and posture.

The tired aching feet, the cramps in the calves, the sore achey back after a long day standing or sitting at a desk, the aching hands with tingling and numbness……  

Many pregnant women are trying to persuade their partners to ease these aches and pains with a quick massage – but where is it safe to do this? Are there any areas of the body you should avoid?

Firstly, what are the benefits of massage during pregnancy?

Massage can:

  • Alleviate muscle pain and cramps.
  • Improve sleep quality (and pregnant women want a great sleep before baby arrives!)
  • Decrease swelling in feet, hands, arms and legs.
  • Improve joint mobility
  • Reduce nerve pain related to stretched, swollen skin.
  • Lower stress and anxiety levels.

What are the risks of massage during pregnancy?

Many women are concerned about the risk of miscarriage, especially during the first trimester. We would recommend that you discuss massage with your doctor if you have a history of bleeding, abdominal pain, nausea and excessive vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarium), previous history of miscarriage or a high risk pregnancy.

We do not recommend massage during times of fever or illness. If you have swelling and/or pain in the calf, then avoid deep massage to this area, as pregnant women have an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis.

What areas should not be massaged during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, we would recommend avoiding massage of the abdomen, perineum and the SP6 area, which is a spot located three fingers above the inside ankle bone. Gentle massage can be applied to most areas of the body, but some pressure points must be avoided. Experts stay safe by avoiding pressure points associated with the pelvis, wrists, hands, and ankles. Due to the risk of blood clots during pregnancy it is also important to avoid deep tissue massage in the legs.

During massage, the pregnant woman should provide feedback on the pressure and level of discomfort. She should also not lie flat on her back for long periods after 19 weeks. Sidelying positions with lots of pillows to support the legs and belly is a favourite. Or supported sitting whilst leaning forwards may be another comfortable position.

Who can provide safe massage during pregnancy?

The physiotherapists and massage therapists at Life Ready Physio have training in treating pregnant women and have the knowledge and equipment to make you comfortable during the massage. If there is an area of pain or tightness that is persistent and not improving with home massage, then we recommend booking an appointment to get a proper assessment to help resolve the issue.

Learn more about HBF Family Cover here.

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