Last updated on Feb 19th, 2021 at 10:22 am

While prenatal massage does share many of the goals of regular massage, such as relaxing tense muscles, easing sore spots and improving circulation and mobility, studies continue to show that being massaged during pregnancy can also reduce stress and anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression. It can also have a positive effect on labour and your baby’s health. Those who have regular massage during their pregnancies may experience reduced pain perception during labour and delivery, as well as shorter labours, and their babies tend to be healthier, as measured by higher Apgar and Brazelton Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale scores.

Recent studies also reveal that hormone levels improve significantly when massage is used as part of prenatal care, especially those hormones associated with relaxation and stress.

According to Capetionian massage therapist, Izelle Louw, prenatal massage helps to:

  • Reduce any swelling in your hands, feet and ankles
  • Lessen sacroiliac joint pain, the most common lower back/hip pain that usually flares up in the second trimester
  • Ease muscular discomfort in areas such as your lower back, legs and feet
  • Relax tense muscles in your shoulders and neck
  • Relieve cramping in your legs
  • Increase flexibility
  • Ease headaches
  • Relax and de-stress
  • Decrease insomnia
  • Increase oxygen in the blood
  • Relieve anxiety or depression.

You can also be massaged during your labour to help ease the experience and make you more comfortable, says Izelle. Click here to read more about labour massage.

A word of caution

Discuss having prenatal massages with your gynae or healthcare provider. Most pregnancies are low risk so there should be no issues, but if you are at high risk (e.g. suffer from hypertension, preeclampsia or have had a previous premature labour) you need to get permission from your medical practitioner beforehand.

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Ensure that you find a qualified prenatal massage therapist who is trained to deal with the specific needs of your pregnant body. This includes the correct positioning during treatment to ensure both you and your baby are safe, and keeping an eye out for the possible development of varicose veins or clots. Always be sure to voice any queries or concerns.