Getting a Massage During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

by Jeanne Sager

pregnancy massage

Back pain and pregnancy. They go together like oil and water, and yet anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women will get a crick in the back while they’ve got a bun in the oven. So what’s a mama-to-be to do? Three words for you: get a massage.

But here’s betting you’ve got three words to answer back with: is it safe?

The answer is … well, it’s a little complicated. So we checked in with Dr. Mary Lynn, an OB/GYN at Loyola University Health System, for the skinny on massage during pregnancy — when it’s safe and when to steer clear.

Should you check with your OB/GYN before getting a massage?

Although massage is generally safe throughout the nine months of an uncomplicated pregnancy, don’t book your session without checking with your OB or midwife.

“There may be conditions of pregnancy where it is best to avoid a massage,” Dr. Lynn warns. Your doctor can tell you if a massage is a complete no-no or advise you on specific conditions to avoid.

If a doctor OKs a massage, how can it help?

“It can be therapeutic in many ways for patients,” says Dr. Lynn. “For patients with anxiety during pregnancy, it can be a great relaxation tool. It can also be helpful for patients having neck pain or back pain in pregnancy — once your doctor has evaluated that it is safe.”

What’s more, Dr. Lynn says there’s pain relief to be had during labor from massage!

Do you need to tell your massage therapist that you’re pregnant?

This is a must, says Dr. Lynn. You should pick a massage therapist who is familiar with pregnancy massage, and you should have a massage specifically designed for pregnancy.

So how does a massage for pregnant women differ from that for any other person?

“It’s mainly the positioning that differs,” Dr. Lynn explains. “In pregnancy, it’s best to avoid being positioned on the back or on the abdomen during a massage. There are some specialized massage tables made specifically for pregnancy that can be used too.”

Are there any places on the body where moms shouldn’t be massaged?

According to Dr. Lynn, part of clearing a massage with your health care provider is talking about any localized pain. “These areas should be evaluated by her doctor before she has a massage,” the OB/GYN explains.

“There are some trigger points on the ankle and wrist that may result in cramping in pregnancy, so these areas are best avoided,” she adds.

Did you get a massage while pregnant? What did your doctor advise?

Image via © Aurelie and Morgan David de Lossy/cultura/Corbis