To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Maternity Massage Therapy for Pregnant, Laboring and Postpartum Women,” by Carole Osborne, in the October 2010 issue. Article summary: Maternity-massage therapy is one of the most personally rewarding and professionally satisfying massage-therapy specializations. Maternity massage addresses the many needs of women throughout an entire childbearing cycle, rather than just during pregnancy. If you are considering entering the world of bellies roiling with life, labor’s powerful groans and the sweetness of a mom embracing her newborn, you will need a sense of what this really entails.

by Rick Morgan, C.M.T.

“My doctor encouraged me to get massage to help my sciatica, but wanted me to see someone who was trained specifically for pregnancy massage,” said Brittney Shaw of Reston, Virginia.

Shaw’s situation has become common as massage has gained more recognition as a complementary treatment during pregnancy. While pregnant women are learning they can not only receive massage during pregnancy but that it will help them, they also want to see a therapist who has been trained to work with pregnant women.

The American Pregnancy Massage Association (APMA) was founded to help pregnant women find therapists with a baseline training in pregnancy massage—enough training to know the contraindications and how to determine whether they should be working with the client.

The APMA’s core belief is that pregnancy massage is safe and effective for most pregnant women when performed by a therapist with specialized training. Our goal is to make that training accessible to more therapists so they can build pregnancy massage into their practices. To achieve that goal, we are working with industry leaders to establish minimum training standards and promote training courses that meet those standards.

Another goal of the APMA is to educate the public about the benefits of pregnancy massage and dispel myths that prevent women from seeking it out. Our website provides research-based articles about pregnancy massage, and we regularly provide information to pregnancy publications. Our long-term goal is to fund research for pregnancy massage, and to use this research to help promote the field.

APMA members are massage therapists who have taken a course that meets our minimum standards and who meet the criteria of the jurisdiction where they practice, as well as pregnancy-massage educators, companies and organizations that support pregnancy massage.

Our website offers a searchable database of trained pregnancy-massage therapists. As we educate the public about the benefits of pregnancy massage, we expect them to utilize the database to find trained therapists. We also provide our members with tools to help them educate their clients about the benefits of pregnancy massage.

With a strong and active membership, we believe we can set standards for training in pregnancy massage and help those therapists who are passionate about this field build their practice.

Rick Morgan, C.M.T., is the founder and president of the American Pregnancy Massage Association. He owns a massage clinic in Herndon, Virginia, that specializes in pregnancy massage. To learn more, visit www.americanpregnancymassage.org.

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