Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a painful burden on a woman’s body if treated correctly with the addition of prenatal massage, a fast growing segment of the massage therapy market.

Massage for this segment of your clientele can eliminate many common complaints and help her stay in touch with the rapid changes occurring during the three trimesters. 

There are also many benefits for the mother-to-be and her fetus through prenatal massage. Traditional techniques have shown that pregnancy massage can reduce anxiety, improve labor outcomes, reduce spasms and cramping, release endorphins and amino acids and promote tissue regeneration, which can reduce scar tissue and stretch marks. 

An easy and convenient way to expand your knowledge in prenatal massage is through home study courses. Some prenatal massage home study courses include topics that cover anatomical, physiological and emotional progression; prenatal massage fundamentals; safety; types of massage oils; positioning techniques; and appropriate practices.

Many of the courses offer a variety of materials for study, including literature, videos and phone consultations with experts in the field. During the course of your client’s pregnancy, as you will learn in the home study courses, massage techniques will change. In the beginning, prenatal massage is very similar to Swedish massage, although therapists avoid sensitive areas of the body and acupressure points. In later stages of the pregnancy, your client will lay on her side and be supported by bolsters and pillows, or using a specially designed massage table, to receive the massage.

Recent studies have shown that depression was reduced in pregnant women who received massage during their pregnancy, and the incidence of premature birth also was reduced.

The studies have shown prenatal massage aids in mood regulation and cardiovascular health by altering women’s hormone levels during pregnancy. In the studies, hormones like dopamine and serotonin were increased. Low levels of those hormones are typically contributing factors in depression. 

And in a study by University of Miami’s School of Medicine and Touch Research Institutes, stress hormones, which are typically associated with norepinephrine and cortisol, decreased. 

In the Touch Research Institutes study, the newborns had a better birth weight, lower cortisol levels and performed better on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment habituation, orientation and motor scales. 

Make sure you check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses your select are acceptable for your continuing education credits.

Jeremy Maready