Pregnancy and prenatal massage can help ease the aches and pains associated with the life-changing segment of your clients’ lives. The techniques, which can be learned through a variety of home study courses, can eliminate many of the common complaints and help female clients stay in touch with the rapid changes occurring during the three trimesters.

These courses can expand the scope of your practice and provide numerous benefits for the expecting mother and unborn child. Pregnancy and prenatal massage has been shown to 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.

Many of these home study massage courses can be found through a simple search on the Internet. 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.

The massage techniques will change during the course of your client’s pregnancy, which is taught in the coursework. In the early stages of pregnancy, prenatal massage is similar to Swedish massage, although therapists avoid sensitive areas of the body and acupressure points. In the 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 depression was reduced in pregnant women who received massage during their pregnancy and the incidence of premature birth also was reduced. 

One study, “Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression,” measured the effects of massage on a group of 149 women diagnosed with major depression. The expecting mothers in the study had an average age of about 26 years old and were between 16 and 20 weeks gestation. 

The women in the studies were randomly separated into a massage group of control group. The mothers in the massage group showed a greater decrease in depression scores, reported less back pain, had lower cortisol levels and less incidence of postpartum depression compared to the control group. The babies born in that group also showed to have a greater gestational age, along with decreased incidence of low birth weight a lower rate of prematurity and lower cortisol levels, according to the study.

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

–Jeremy Maready