December 6, 2023
8 min

Pregnancy Massage Explained: The Power of Soothing Touch

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By Jade Calitz-Nolte, a certified massage therapist and the founder of The Rub studio in Amsterdam.

Celebrating the arrival of a new life fills us with immense joy and excitement. But, as expectant mothers embark on this journey, they face numerous changes and challenges, both physically and emotionally.

During this special time, pregnancy massage is like a comforting hug that brings relief and many benefits for both the mom and baby. 

In this article we explore the world of pregnancy massage – understanding what it is, discovering its various advantages, and learning how this caring practice promotes the overall well-being of expectant mothers.

Pregnancy massage

What is pregnancy massage (aka prenatal massage)?

Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, is a specialized form of therapeutic touch tailored to address the unique needs and changes experienced by expectant mothers throughout their journey to childbirth. This gentle, soothing practice is designed specifically to accommodate the anatomical changes, discomforts, and emotional fluctuations that often accompany pregnancy.

Crafted with a deep understanding of the pregnant body, pregnancy massage focuses on easing the physical strain, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being. Skilled therapists carefully adapt their techniques, using cushions, bolsters, and specially designed tables to ensure the utmost comfort and safety for the mother-to-be in various stages of pregnancy.

The strokes and pressure applied during pregnancy massage are modified to suit the specific needs and concerns of expectant mothers. This gentle therapy primarily aims to alleviate common discomforts such as back pain, swelling, joint stiffness, and muscular tension that arise as the body adjusts to the growing baby and hormonal changes.

What sets pregnancy massage apart is its emphasis on enhancing circulation, reducing stress hormones, and fostering relaxation, contributing to a more tranquil pregnancy experience. Importantly, prenatal massage is typically safe for most pregnant women when performed by a certified and experienced therapist who understands the complexities and precautions necessary during each trimester.

Benefits of pregnancy massage

There are numerous health benefits pregnancy massage can bring to expectant mothers:

  • Improved sleep quality. Deep tissue massage helps the increased production of melatonin hormone and serotonin compounds in the body. As a result, people get to have their sleep rhythms regulated. When a pregnant woman receives a massage, it improves the quality of her sleep, which promotes a good overall effect on the body.
  • Lowers stress and anxiety levels. Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone. When a pregnant woman is introduced to massage therapy as part of prenatal care, the level of cortisol in her body is reduced significantly. This lets her experience good hormones that have been known to improve mood, vitality, and immunity.
  • Lessens swelling of the joints. Oedema is a medical term used for swelling. It is a common occurrence during pregnancy and is caused by low circulation and extra pressure on the blood vessels. To stimulate the soft tissues and lower the buildup of fluids in swollen joints, deep tissue massage is recommended for pregnant women. At the same time, massage can improve the lymph system's ability to remove tissue waste in the body.
  • Alleviates muscle pain and cramps. Pregnant women also commonly experience muscle pain and cramps. These discomforts usually occur due to muscular tension and heightened motor neuron activity. With the help of a specialist experienced in pregnancy massage at The Rub, these can be greatly reduced.  
  • Reduces nerve pain. Some women experience sciatic nerve pain, especially in the late stages of their pregnancy. This is because their uterus rests on the muscles in the lower back and pelvic floor. When this happens, the pressure extends tension to the upper and lower leg muscles, which results in swelling in these areas. Thanks to The Rub massage specialists who offer prenatal care, mothers can get the help they need to release the tension they feel in nearby muscles. Through massage, women get to experience less sciatic nerve pain throughout their pregnancy.
  • Lowers risk for premature birth. Studies have shown that pregnant mothers who regularly received prenatal massage therapy were less likely to encounter a premature birth as compared to women who did not get a massage throughout their pregnancy.
  • Reduces the baby's stress hormones. Apart from helping the pregnant mother, massage also lowers the stress hormones in the baby. Research has shown that massage plays a vital factor in raising the baby's cortisol levels even if they are still inside their mother's womb. Because of this, it is safe to say that mothers aren't the only ones who receive the health benefits of pregnancy massage.

The Rub massage studio and more:

At The Rub, we believe in taking good care of our bodies and treating massages as essential body maintenance. Just like a car needs a fix-up, we need to refresh ourselves periodically. Approximately 80% of health complaints are linked to blocked emotions, and we're here to help you balance a healthy relationship between mind, body, and soul.

We offer various services, including Mommy Rub, Signature Rub, Deep Rub, Rock ‘n Rub, Anti Migraine, and Rub ’n Run. Especially for moms-to-be, we provide specialized services such as Mommy Rub, Baby Massage, and Pregnancy Yoga.

What is Mommy Rub:

Pregnancy Massage is increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Our experienced therapists know the correct way to position and support a mother's body during a massage and how to modify techniques to suit. Pregnancy massage can alleviate back, neck, pelvic, and shoulder pain associated with changes in the body during pregnancy. It assists to decrease swelling and reduce stress and anxiety. The massage is customized to each client's individual needs.

You can find more information about the pregnancy massage in our studio and book your appointment here. To answer one common question already - we have a specifically designed pregnancy massage table, so your belly fits snugly into the space, allowing you to lie safely and comfortably on your stomach! Our mamas love it!

Why Baby Massage Course:

Touch is your baby’s first language, so massage is a great way of establishing trust and confidence between you both. It lets you communicate with your baby and focus on each other.

As you touch your baby during the massage, it causes an increase in oxytocin in both parent and baby. Oxytocin is the love and nurturing hormone.

Birth is the strongest massage your baby will ever receive. It stimulates the peripheral nervous system and major organs in preparation for life outside the womb. Baby massage continues this process, with developmental techniques that work with the muscles, joints, and reflexes, helping the baby to fulfill his or her full potential at each stage of development.

Baby massage is a powerful way of communicating and bonding with your baby, building confidence in your parenting skills, and enhancing your baby’s health and resilience.

Our Baby Massage Course is designed around strengthening the bond with your baby and enhancing health and resilience. The course takes approximately 1,5 hours and is done with a small group of like-minded parents.

Baby massage

Pregnancy massage FAQs:

Let us answer some common questions about prenatal massage.

Where to avoid foot massage during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, specific areas on the feet are considered to potentially stimulate uterine contractions or affect sensitive points that could lead to complications. As a precaution, it's advisable to avoid intense pressure on certain points of the foot that are believed to be linked to the uterus and pelvic areas.

The areas to avoid during foot massage include the inner ankles, the area between the ankle bone and heel (known as the Achilles tendon), and the webbing between the big toe and second toe. Applying deep pressure on these specific points, especially using reflexology or acupressure techniques, is suggested to be avoided during pregnancy to prevent the potential stimulation of the uterus.

It's crucial to communicate openly with your massage therapist about your pregnancy and any concerns you may have. A trained therapist experienced in prenatal massage will be knowledgeable about the areas to avoid and will modify the massage techniques accordingly to ensure a safe and beneficial experience for both you and your baby.

How to massage sore breasts during pregnancy?

Massage can be a soothing and helpful technique to alleviate soreness or tenderness in the breasts during pregnancy. However, it's essential to approach breast massage with care and gentleness, especially during this sensitive time.

Here are steps to consider when massaging sore breasts during pregnancy:

  1. Use gentle strokes: Begin by using light, circular motions with your fingertips around the breast area. Apply gentle pressure and avoid pressing too firmly to prevent discomfort.
  2. Warm compress: Before massaging, consider using a warm compress or a warm, damp towel on the breasts to help relax the muscles and ease soreness. This can aid in making the massage more comfortable and effective.
  3. Massage with natural oils: If you choose to use oils, opt for natural and safe options like coconut oil or almond oil. Apply a small amount to your fingertips and use it to facilitate the massage with smooth, gentle strokes.
  4. Massage technique: Start from the outer areas of the breast and move inward, using light circular motions. Avoid the nipple area if it's particularly sensitive or painful.
  5. Consult a professional: If you're experiencing persistent soreness or have concerns about breast health during pregnancy, it's recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified massage therapist experienced in prenatal care. They can offer tailored advice and ensure that the massage techniques used are safe and beneficial for you and your baby.

Always listen to your body during the massage. If you feel any discomfort or pain, stop immediately and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.

Mamamoon and The Rub

At Mamamoon we love bringing the best professionals to our mamas and mamas-to-be. Jade and her team have taken amazing care of many Mamamoon mamas before, helping them through pregnancy and beyond. We couldn't be more grateful for having them as part of our expert team sharing their passion, experience, and knowledgeable insights with the Mamamoon community.