Massage Away Morning Sickness, MASSAGE Magazine

According to pregnancy statistics, between 75 and 90 percent of all women who are pregnant experience some degree of morning sickness and/or nausea. Don’t let the term confuse you though; morning sickness is not restricted to just the early hours of the day, but can occur throughout the day. Although morning sickness tends to dissipate as the pregnancy advances, in some cases it can persist for months. Massage therapy has the power to help reduce the symptoms of morning sickness, so your pregnant client can enjoy this special time of her life.

While it may seem like nothing more than a nuisance and an expected side effect of pregnancy, morning sickness can cause some serious repercussions, including dehydration, a detached retina, blown eardrums, cracked ribs and torn esophagi, according to a study out of the University of California, Los Angeles. Proven to provide relaxation and stress release, massage can play an important role in relieving nausea and vomiting in your pregnant clients, reducing the risk of severe side effects.

As you know, massage improves circulation so blood flows more readily throughout the body, which helps to release tension in muscles. As muscles begin to relax, hormones travel throughout the body, calming and helping to reduce that nauseous feeling. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology found that a 20-minute massage, twice weekly, reduced anxiety, improved mood and sleep, all of which can help address nausea symptoms. In addition to reducing nausea and vomiting in the mom-to-be, massage can help ensure the fetus receives important nourishment, keeping it healthy.

Of course, if your client is nauseous on the day of her appointment, it’s best to reschedule. Once her symptoms have subsided, massage may help to alleviate and/or reduce discomfort in the future.

You may have some clients who experience severe morning sickness that lands them in the hospital. Although extensive research on massage and morning sickness, severe or otherwise, has not been done, there are some studies that find a positive link between the two. At the Hospital of Skövde in Sweden, researchers acknowledged that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy have an “obscure etiology” and treatment is often symptomatic. They decided to study the use of tactile massage on women with severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (SNVP). Ten hospitalized women with SNVP were given tactile massage on three different occasions. At the end of the trial, the women were interviewed and “the findings revealed an essential meaning summarizing the experience: to obtain a relieving moment of rest and access to the whole body when nausea rules life.”

The study reports that tactile massage promotes relaxation, allowing a women to “regain access to her body,” suggesting that this technique is a good alternative and complementary treatment for SNVP.

Even though massage can ultimately help your pregnant client with morning sickness and regain control of her body, remember that this alternative therapy should not replace medical advice and/or doctor-prescribed medication for this ailment. Rather, massage should be used in conjunction with the oversight of other health professionals.