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Pregnancy massage

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Pregnancy massage can help reduce stress, relax your muscles and improve your blood flow, mood and sleep during pregnancy.
  • Massage in pregnancy is gentler than the type of massage you can have at other times, and should avoid certain areas of your body.
  • It should only be performed by a therapist who is specially trained in pregnancy massage.
  • Check with your doctor or midwife that it's safe for you to have a pregnancy massage.
  • Massage during labour can help manage your pain and improve your birth experience.

What is pregnancy massage?

Pregnancy massage involves using massage therapy techniques to help you feel well while you are pregnant. Massage can be especially useful to ease discomfort during pregnancy, when some medicines and other treatments are not safe to use.

Pregnancy can put a lot of stress on your back, shoulders, neck and abdominal muscles. Pregnancy massage is designed to relieve some of the problems that are common during pregnancy. It can relieve stress and reduce swelling in your arms and legs. A qualified therapist will know which areas to target, and which to avoid.

Massage in pregnancy can involve many different massage techniques. It is usually a gentle massage.

Pregnancy massage is not the same as perineal massage.

What does a pregnancy massage involve?

Before the massage begins, your therapist will talk to you about your health and lifestyle.

They will ask you to lie on a specially designed massage table. They will cover you with a sheet to protect your privacy and to keep you comfortably warm. They may use creams or oils that are safe in pregnancy — these can help them to massage your skin smoothly. They will use pillows to help you to get comfortable, in a position that is safe for pregnancy.

Remember that it's not a good idea to lie flat on your back when you are in the second half of pregnancy. This puts too much pressure on the vein that runs from your legs to your heart. It can make you feel dizzy or short of breath and can prevent oxygen getting to your baby.

What are the health benefits of pregnancy massage?

There is no strong evidence that pregnancy massage relieves pain, but it may:

There is good evidence that massage during labour can help manage your pain and improve your emotional experience of labour.

Is pregnancy massage safe?

Massage therapy is generally considered safe if it is done properly by a trained professional. It's important to make sure your massage therapist is specially qualified for pregnancy massage.

They should avoid pressing certain pressure points and should only use gentle movements on your abdomen (tummy). They should be very gentle on your legs, because you have a higher risk of developing a blood clot when you're pregnant.

Heated beds or electric blankets are not recommended in pregnancy. You may also need help to get on and off the table safely.

Always check with your doctor before you have a pregnancy massage. It may not be safe if you have:

Resources and support

Visit healthdirect's massage therapy guide to learn about some of the different types of massage available.

Some massage therapists are trained to work with people receiving medical care. Your doctor may have a list of therapists they recommend.

You can use healthdirect's Service Finder or visit Massage & Myotherapy Australia to find a qualified therapist in your area.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2023

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Need more information?

Perineal massage

Perineal massage is a technique that can be used during pregnancy to help to stretch the perineum, to reduce the risk of tears when giving birth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

How to do a perineal massage

Learn how to do a perineal massage to help prepare you having a baby.

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Complementary therapy during pregnancy

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Baby massage

Massaging your baby is about connecting with your child and relaxing together. Read on for tips on how to massage your baby, and what to avoid.

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Perineal massage | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

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Non-medical pain relief during labour

There are many ways to relieve labour pain without medicines. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Learn about the different options to help choose one or more that suit you.

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Pain relief during labour | Raising Children Network

Pain relief in labour includes natural options like massage, as well as medical options. It’s best to discuss options with a midwife or doctor in pregnancy.

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Things to avoid during pregnancy

From alcohol to house paints, there are a few things you should avoid during pregnancy. Find out more about what you should avoid during pregnancy.

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Anatomy of pregnancy and birth - perineum and pelvic floor

Read about your pelvic floor, including your perineum, which lies across the bottom of your pelvis and can be damaged during pregnancy and childbirth.

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8 benefits of seeing a pelvic health physiotherapist in pregnancy - Birth Trauma

Seeing a pelvic health physiotherapist during pregnancy can help with pregnancy discomfort, birth preparations, preparing for postnatal recovery and much more....

Read more on Australasian Birth Trauma Association website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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