Maximize Your Knowledge of Pregnancy Massage with Education and Training, MASSAGE MagazineNow that you’ve decided to offer pregnancy massage, the first order of business is to make sure you are properly trained in the practice.

In addition to your basic massage skills and education, you’ll need to learn some specialized techniques and gain a solid understanding of pregnancy and what changes occur in a woman’s body during this time. So where should you begin? There are scores of massage schools that offer short-term workshops and dozens of well-respected programs, but online courses allow you to learn from the convenience of home and may be less expensive. So which option is best?

In 1990, Elaine Stillerman, L.M.T., a teacher of prenatal massage, developed the professional training course MotherMassage: Massage During Pregnancy. She says, “I am very concerned about the state of massage education in general and continuing education in particular.”

When it comes to working with expectant mothers, Stillerman believes that with the appropriate knowledge and training, a massage therapist can give her client an effective, safe and optimally beneficial experience.

So what makes a good prenatal massage training program? According to Stillerman, an educated, experienced, flexible instructor is best equipped to teach students the proper techniques and practices. “The instructor should have experience in working with this deserving population and communicating concepts. The program should also include a curriculum that encompasses a balance of science and ritual, hands-on techniques and sensory awareness,” she says. “The class should be filled with information, humor and sensitivity. And the course should be comprehensive in scope and instructional in a wide variety of techniques.”

An Internet search reveals numerous educational providers offering on-site and online prenatal massage education. These organizations provide class schedules, detailed outlines of coursework, location and costs for a variety of pregnancy massage workshops.

But what about those online courses? While this option offers flexibility and carries a lower price tag, it may not be the best way to fully grasp the nuances of pregnancy massage. “Online courses are fine to cover the science, that is the anatomy and physiology, of any topic. But the only way to feel a baby move inside its mother, feel the lymphatic rhythm or identify when soft tissue releases is through a live course with the on-site supervision of a qualified instructor,” Stillerman says.

Offering pregnancy massage as another menu option in your practice or specializing solely in this modality can help your clients enjoy their pregnancy and prepare their bodies for the hard work of delivery. By preparing yourself for the experience through education, hands-on training and coursework, you’ll both reap the benefits.