To complement “Postpartum Depression: Physical & Emotional Benefits of Massage,” by Carole Osborne, C.M.T., in the November 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: These research resources can help you gain a better understand of how massage may help prevent or reduce postpartum depression.

postpartum depression

Getting women, their families and caregivers to implement massage therapy to prevent or reduce postpartum depression can be tough for many practical reasons. Knowing about and showing them some promising research may be one step toward encouraging this form of self-care. Here are some study highlights to get you started.

Effects of massage therapy on postpartum depression

Field T., Diego M., Hernandez-Reif M., Deeds O., Figueiredo B. “Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression.” Infant Behavior & Development. 2009 Dec; 32(4):454-60.

Field T., Diego M.A., Hernandez-Reif M., et al. “Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2004; 25:115–122.

Field T., Diego M., Hernandez-Reif M. “Prenatal depression effects and interventions: a review.” Infant Behavior & Development. 2010 Dec; 33(4):409-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2010.04.005. Epub 2010 May 14.

Field T., Diego M., Hernandez-Reif M., et al. “Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2012 April; 16(2):204-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.08.002. Epub 2011 Sept 23.

Kleiber B., Dimidjian S. “Postpartum Depression among Adolescent Mothers: A Comprehensive Review of Prevalence, Course, Correlates, Consequences, and Interventions.” Article first published online: March 24, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/cpsp.12055. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. Volume 21, Issue 1, pages 48–66, March 2014.

American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage + Depression,” an overview.

Moyer C., Rounds J., Hammun J. “A meta-analysis of massage therapy research.” Psychological Bulletin. 2004; 130:3-18.


Understanding, preventing and reducing postpartum depression

Providing helpful information, perspectives and professionals to your clients are ways you can support their emotional health and their families’ adjustments while remaining within your own scope of practice. Here are some articles that may be useful to you:

Scientific American: Women with strong social support are 75 percent less likely to develop postpartum depression.

Thriving Home Blog: Overview and resources for the postpartum period.

Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Distinguishing mood disorders, plus many resource links for help.

Postpartum Support International: Facts about postpartum depression and phone numbers for resources in each U.S. state. Support Helpline: (800) 944-4773

PubMed Health: “Pregnancy and birth: Depression after childbirth—What can help?”

March of Dimes: “Postpartum Depression”

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN):

“Conquering Postpartum Depression: AWHONN Supports the MOTHERS Act.” Nursing for Women’s Health. 2007; 11(4):422-423.


Good books

Dalfen A. (2009). When Baby Brings the Blues: Solutions for Postpartum Depression. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada: John Wiley and Sons.

Dalton K. (2001). Depression after Childbirth. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Moberg K. (2003). The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love, and Healing. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.

Osborne C. (2012). Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, 2nd Edition: A Comprehensive Guide to Prenatal, Labor, and Postpartum Practice. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer.


Help finding a massage therapist

Body Therapy Education’s website has a list of prenatal and postpartum certified massage therapists, sortable by location:

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)’s website has a national locator service of AMTA member therapists, sortable by specialty and location:

The public education site of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) has a national locator service of ABMP member therapists, sortable by specialty and location:


Massage can help

By educating yourself about the potential benefits of massage therapy for pregnant and postpartum clients, you can better encourage them to make massage a permanent part of their self-care routine during their childbearing years—and in all stages of life.


About the Author

Carole Osborne, C.M.T., is author of Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, now in its second edition, and course developer of a nationwide continuing education and certification workshop of that name. In addition, she shares her 41-year career and her passion for mentoring good therapists into mastery in her online and in-person supervision and mentoring groups. She wrote “Postpartum Depression: Physical & Emotional Benefits of Massage ” for the November 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.