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Posted by: Emma Sanderson, 25 Apr 2012 4:25PM
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Massage during pregnanct

Hi, I am a fully qualified holistic therapist (specialising in massage, aromatherapy and reflexology) I have my own therapy clinic and keep getting approached by pregnant women who are wanting to book in for a massage treatment. After finding out how far gone they are and if safe i tend to suggest a seated Indian head massage, therefore this avoids any pressure on the abdomen etc. I currently have a client who is 20 weeks pregnant however who is insisting she wants a back massage, where she would be lying on her front. I have thought of placing pillows (support) under her chest and pelvis to minimise pressure to her abdomen however do you still think this would be unsafe?? I am not qualified in postnatal massage (although intend to take a course on this very soon)and I do not want to risk harm to her or her baby!! Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Emma


Nicki Lee
25 Apr 2012 6:05PM

Hi Emma, I can't be sure, as I've also not done a specific qualification, but I imagine any position that would actually injure the baby would be unbearably uncomfortable for the mother. Having said that, you could try lots of pillows, but I find that having a woman lie on her side is easiest and most comfortable. You do the right side while they lie on the left, then have them swap over and do the other side, then I normally end with them supine. On their side, give them a couple pillows for support along their front. I'm sure those who have specialised in this will have additional good advice, but a couple other points to consider are indigestion (I had one client who couldn't have massage in the morning because of it) and propping them up a bit when supine as well. Nicki
Tricia Turner
26 Apr 2012 9:07AM

Hi Emma, We covered massage in pregnancy in our ITEC diploma training. Massage in pregnancy requires medical permission but where this cannot be obtained, your client must give their informed consent in writing prior to treatment. Massage of the back should be done with the client lying on her side supported by pillows, also essential oils should not be used. Alternatively if you can sit the client on a stool with no back and for them to lean on cushions/pillows on the couch or back of a upholstered chair, this is comfortable for them and easier for you to do the back massage. If the client is lying supine ensure she is supported with a pillow under one hip to lift and tilt the pelvis. This avoids pressure on the aorta and the inferior vena cava.
Angela Smith
26 Apr 2012 9:46AM

wonderful...massage in pregnancy (after the first three months at least that is!) is so beneficial, no wonder she wants it! I usually have the table against the wall so they can't fall off the table and have the client facing the wall on their side with the upper leg bent so it can rest on pillows so the pelvis and belly is not squashed and pillows for the neck and head and maybe infront of the chest area. You will see what is best with each client. In this position, the client feels supported and rested and you can actually get to the whole spinal and hip and shoulder area and do lovely long strokes up the whole back, the thighs and legs, arms...on one side and then gently and slowly get them to turn round so the are the other way still facing the wall, rearraneg the pillows and off you go. It is a fantastic journey to have with a client thorugh pregnancy and then with baby too once birthed. I use CST too which is so valuable right up to labour and then with the baby and for the mum after birthing. Have fun!
Angelina Kelly
2 May 2012 7:32PM

Hi Emma, I would imagine the safest form of massage for a pregnant woman is Reflexology. She will still get all the benefits of massage but in a more comfortable and safe position for both her and her baby. Perhaps you could explain this to her and encourage her to opt for reflexology instead. Angelina Kelly Reflexologist
Emma Sanderson
2 May 2012 11:40PM

Thanks for all you help and advise guys!! I'm going on a Pregnancy massage course in June so hopefully i will learn lots from it and it will solve any similar problems/issues i have with pregnant clients in the future. :) Thanks again, Emma xx
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