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Maternity Massage Therapy

One way that women can minimize the physical and emotional discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth, and improve the quality of this transformational  time of their lives, is to receive periodic maternity massages, a form of therapeutic bodywork.  Given the complex hormonal and physiological changes of pregnancy, it is best to seek out a massage therapist with experience in or specifically certified in maternity massage. Most maternity massage therapists maintain a private practice, working in a home-based or commercial office. Others are affiliated with medical professionals, women's health centers, or work in health clubs/gyms.


Massage can help alleviate the backaches, leg cramps, and swelling that often accompany pregnancy. Massage therapy is much more than a soothing back rub and has documented therapeutic value. 

Massage reduces stress, induces deep relaxation, increases energy levels and relieves muscle tension in the areas most affected by the growing fetus and the mother's shifting center of gravity, such as the back, neck, and pelvic area. The massage therapist assists the woman with passive muscle stretches and joint movements to relieve cramping, fatigue, and musculoskeletal pain, helping to increase range of motion and flexibility.

Massage stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph fluids and reduces swelling in the lower extremities, a common symptom during pregnancy. Massage also facilitates postpartum structural realignment and healing of connective tissue when a Cesarean section has been performed.

What to Expect

A massage session begins with a medical history review to determine if a release from your prenatal care provider is necessary, and to enable the therapist to focus on areas needing relief. The therapist recommends exercises, body mechanics, breathing, and relaxation techniques.

The bodywork takes place in a clean, private, nurturing space, often with soft lighting and soothing music.  During the massage session, a light oil or lotion is used which lubricates the skin to enable a gliding action across the muscle and helps replenish the skins suppleness.

The expectant mother is educated about safe and effective exercises, ways to improve posture, diaphragmatic breathing techniques, and relaxation visualizations. She can learn effleurage, a calming, long, rhythmic massage stroke, which can be employed during labor as a way to relax during contractions.

Session Length and Cost

The average session lasts an hour, with costs ranging from $30-$75; many therapists are willing to make house calls for an additional $10-$20. Some therapists offer discounts, referral bonuses and gift certificates.

Source Acknowledgement-Lori Hermann, Certified Maternity Massage Therapist

Local Massage Therapists We Recommend

As doulas, we use a lot of different massage techniques as we care for women during labor and postpartum.  However, we do not have the same talent and training as some of our local certified massage therapists.  If you are looking for extensive bodywork, we recommend the following healing arts practitioners:

Tom Valdez, Certified Massage Therapist-BodyWorks, Wamego, Kansas-you can e-mail Tom at

For more information, please contact us.


Updated 02/08/2001

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