Reclaiming the First Trimester Prenatal Massage

Reclaiming the First Trimester Prenatal Massage


After five years of working in spas where massage was not allowed during the first trimester, I figured it was time to reclaim that first trimester massage and shout “Massage is safe in the first trimester”! The vast majority of pregnant individuals will greatly benefit from a prenatal massage, and we trust that those that have a condition that make massage not indicated, will be in communication with their medical team.  We believe that our clients are strong individuals, not fragile patients that can’t be touched while pregnant.

Massage therapy DOES NOT cause a miscarriage

Part of the fear behind a massage during the first trimester stems from the fact that miscarriages are common at 8 to 9 weeks, squarely in the first trimester. To be clear though, a miscarriage occurs because the zygote has an cellular abnormality or the uterus is not capable of holding the zygote, not by the way a trained and professional massage therapist massages you. One in three pregnancy ends in a miscarriage, and those are really scary numbers, so some massage therapist choose to distance themselves from the first trimester to protect themselves. Note: this has nothing to do with the client, but only the massage therapist's incorrect fears. 

Some rare instances of direct, deep, traumatic injury to the either the lower back or abdominal region have resulted in the zygote becoming dislodged from the uterine wall and thus resulting in a spontaneous miscarriage. However, a trained massage will never do traumatic work during a massage session. While we believe that pregnant people can receive deep pressure massages during pregnancy, we do avoid deep work to the lower back and abdominal area. Furthermore, we are trained in prenatal massage therapy techniques, and thus minimize the direct pressure to certain points on the body that may be contraindicated during pregnancy. However, your sore hips and achey back are not on that list of places to avoid, no matter how far along in you are in your pregnancy.

And lastly, if a simple massage therapy session where to cause a spontaneous miscarriage, the abortion debate in the United States would be a moot issue. 

Foot massages are completely safe during pregnancy

The thought process behind a foot massage being linked to either an early miscarriage or even as a way to induce labor near someone's estimate date of delivery, are based on pressure points that are linked to various parts of the body.  There is a point on the inner ankles, about three fingers above the ankle bone, that is linked to the uterus.  However, if your body is not going to have a miscarriage, a massage to the feet and ankles is not going to cause a miscarriage. 

As mentioned earlier, there are a few spots where direct, deep and extended pressure are not recommend during a prenatal massage. So, we are not going to spend the entire massage session jammed into your ankle because frankly, that will not feel good for you. Those other spots include on the back near the shoulder blade, the webbing between the thumb and forefinger, and the interior wrist. But, do not be alarmed if we massage you in any of those spots because the pressure will not be direct, deep and extended. 

Other important considerations for a Prenatal Massage

A few weeks ago, we answered some frequently asked questions about prenatal massages that provided a great overview of what to expect when going in for a massage. Here are some other aspects to be aware of when getting a prenatal massages. 

  • Our prenatal massages are 75 minutes long to account for position changes and bathroom breaks.  Please do not be afraid to speak up if you need something. Massages are intended to be relaxing and enjoyable for you, so your comfort is paramount.
  • There are always more pillows! Depending on what stage of pregnancy you are in, pillows are intended to support what hurts.  Early in the first trimester we can put small pillows or towels under your shoulders while you are laying face down to take some pressure of your breasts.  If you are not comfortable laying on your stomach, we can use pillows to support your neck, stomach and hips.  

We do encourage all clients, but especially those with a history of early miscarriages, to be in communication with their medical team to fully understand your medical history and how massage can impact you as an individual. Please note this entry is not intended to provide medical advice, but rather raise awareness about the benefits of massage therapy during the first trimester of pregnancy.