As scientists continue to study the effects of massage on pregnant women and their unborn children, more and more benefits of the therapy are being discovered.

Through home study courses, massage therapists can learn how to help ease the aches and pains associated with pregnancy and help aid in the healthy development of a child and easily implement these tools into their practice.

Prenatal massage can have lasting effects on the mother-to-be and her unborn baby. Some benefits of prenatal massage include reduced anxiety, improved labor outcomes, reduced spasms and cramping, released endorphins and amino acids as well as promoting tissue regeneration, which can reduce scar tissue and stretch marks.

An Internet search resulted in numerous home study courses that any massage therapist can take to fulfill their continuing education requirements. For prenatal massage, some of the courses offered cover such topics as the basics of Swedish massage, acupressure and reflexology techniques; along with proper body positioning, equipment, supplies, anatomical, physiological and emotional progression, appropriate practices and types of massage oils to use during treatments.

Some courses also include teaching segments on supporting a cesarean birth, self-care for labor assistants, postpartum guidelines and precautions for massage therapists.

Recent studies have shown that prenatal massage can have many benefits that include decreased depression, anxiety and cortisol levels.

A study, “Benefits of combining massage therapy with group interpersonal psychotherapy in prenatally depressed women,” monitored 112 pregnant women who had been diagnosed with depression. The women, who were of low socioeconomic status and had no complications in their pregnancies, were assigned to two groups. One group received interpersonal psychotherapy, while the other group was assigned group interpersonal psychotherapy combined with massage.

During the massage sessions, moderate pressure was applied to each subject’s head and neck, followed by the back, arms, hands and feet, according to the study. While both groups of women benefited from the therapy sessions, the group that received massage therapy showed greater decreases in depression and anxiety, as well as significantly lower cortisol levels.

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

–Jeremy Maready