WholeBody Massage Therapy, Inc.

Eileen Monaghan, Licensed Massage Therapist




Benefits of Massage during pregnancy

Posted on 21 June, 2016 at 21:35 Comments comments (363)

Article taken from American Pregnancy Association's website (www.americanpregnancy,org)

Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage


Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Massage and pregnancy has often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding the safety and purpose of massage during pregnancy. Modern investigation and research is proving that prenatal massage therapy can be a very instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.


Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. Before you schedule a massage appointment, make sure to ask about qualifications.


Massage and Pregnancy: Benefits of prenatal massage


Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage, which aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body.


Swedish Massage is the recommended prenatal massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.


Hormone regulation


Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”;) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).


These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.


Reduction of swelling


Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.


Improvement of nerve pain


Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular massage.


Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:


Reduced back pain

Reduced joint pain

Improved circulation

Reduced edema

Reduced muscle tension and headaches

Reduced stress and anxiety

Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles

Better sleep

Massage and Pregnancy: Precautions for prenatal massage?


As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.


Body position during prenatal massage


Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.


Seek an appropriate massage therapist


It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist. Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs. They are aware of how to position you safely and prevent strain to the uterine ligaments. They are also able to watch for symptoms of blood clots and varicose veins.


Women who have recently experienced bleeding, pre-term contractions, or have any of the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:


High risk pregnancy

Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)


Previous pre-term labor

Experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden severe headaches

Recently gave birth

Pregnancy and Massage: Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?


Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased chance of miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


Pregnancy and Massage: Prenatal Massage as part of Prenatal Care


The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement proven to improve pregnancy outcome, and maternal health. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.



Last Updated: 01/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:


Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar;20(1):31-8.


Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun;25(2):115-22.


Howell ,Julie, NMT, PMT, Prenatal Health Through Massage Therapy: For Women and Their Babies. http://www.newlifejournal.com/decjan03/howell/01/03/full.shtml. Article accessed online 10/18/2007.





Positioning for Comfort during Pregnancy

Posted on 11 June, 2016 at 22:05 Comments comments (3627)

I love using the Side-lying position in my massage sessions.  I am probably not in the majority on this but it is a wonderful position to be in when you have hip and shoulder issues.  During pregnancy, once you are showing, side-lying position will substitute lying on your back.   It's a tough pill to swallow when you have no choice.  I have spent many hours trying to perfect my side-lying routine so that you will get the most out of your massage.  I doubt I will ever hear a client say that they never want to lie face down again but I do my best to make sure that you get a massage that you can be happy with during pregnancy. 

During a 60 or 90 minute session, you will have a choice of lying in a semi-reclined position (face up but your upper body is at a 45 degree angle) and side-lying or just side-lying.  

The semi-reclined position is great if you would like face massage, reflexology, and/or abdominal massage.  There are several reasons these areas should be a focus:

Face Massage is fantastic for clogged sinuses.  It's a symptom in pregnancy that doesn't affect everyone but if you do get it, you will definitely appreciate some extra work on the sinuses.

Reflexology, oh Reflexology!  I could just go on for days and days about the incredible benefits of reflexology during pregnancy.  For one, it is super relaxing.  I think I had my best sleeps during my reflexology sessions during pregnancy.  I have also had several clients report lovely bowel movements after their reflexology session.  Ok, so that might sound a bit crass but for a pregnant woman who has been constipated, that bowel movement could be like the best Christmas present EVER!

I'll be honest.  I don't ask about abdominal massage often enough.  It does feel wonderful during pregnancy.  I am not trying to manipulate any tissue.  It is just supposed to feel good.  Plus, there is a lovely move called the "lumbar lift" which can relieve some of the weight of the baby off of the hips.  It is temporary but feels so good when it's happening.  I've often felt the baby moving along with my hands during the abdominal massage which is a great experience all by itself.

The semi-reclined position is also great to get into the thighs (quadriceps).  They tend to take a beating and deserve some attention.

Semi-reclined position (Below)

The side-lying position is what most pregnant women know .  You are lying on your side with a pillow under your head and a pillow under your legs.  I give my pregnant clients a choice.  She can use the long bolster (the pillow that is typically under the knees while laying face up) under her top leg, a pillow under her head and the optional "huggy" pillow for her arm.  The second option is a body pillow for her arm and leg.  The third option would be the side-lying positioning system.  This group of cushions supports the head, shoulders and hips like no other cushioning.  It lifts your body up and off the massage table so you are not putting all of your weight on your hips and shoulders.  During my pregnancy, I was not comfortable lying on my side because of the pressure being put on my shoulder and hip.  I would automatically get numbness in my legs and arms.  This cushion stopped the numbness.  It may look a little weird but the majority of clients I have used it on are very comfortable.  

The best part of the side-lying position with me is you have a choice.  Let's find the cushioning that is right for you!

Some women have asked if I will use cushioning so she can lie on her stomach.  There are some systems out there that are made for that. I have had past clients who would bring in her cushioning system.  If you would like to bring in your own, I will work with you.  I have also been asked about the tables with the belly holes in them.  I will not invest in a table with a belly hole.  There are several reasons.  First, the massage table is not as soft as your bed.  There is only a few inches of cushioning.   Second, I apply pressure to your body.  You are dealing with your weight and mine on the massage table.  This may increase pressure on the uterus and put the baby into distress.  Third, these "belly hole" tables do not take into consideration that every woman carries differently.  It is possible for the woman's belly to be too small so the uterine ligaments are dealing with gravity (hanging out in no man's land) or her belly is too big and is being squished by the table below it.  She could also be carrying high or low and so the hole is not in the right place.

I'm looking for the position that will keep you and your baby safe and comfortable.  Come get a massage today and start reaping the benefits massage can offer.

Prenatal Massage

Posted on 29 May, 2016 at 20:35 Comments comments (102)

You're pregnant!  It is an exciting time in your life.  Pregnancy is a wonderful gift for some women.  The little one moves and kicks.  Your friends and family dote on you every chance they get.  Even perfect strangers are excited for you.  There are few things that compare with having a baby.

There are some not-so-fantastic parts of pregnancy too.  Weight gain, feeling like your body isn't yours anymore, back and hip pain, swollen feet, constipation, swollen or tender breasts, fatigue and nausea to name a few.  Random people coming up to you and just touching your belly, unsolicited advice, some people treating you like you are made of glass; I'm sure the list could go on.  You don't have control with some of these things but there is something you can do for the back and hip pain, swollen feet, fatigue and a host of other physical issues that come with this blessing.  Massage!

There are lots of new studies out there that shows how beneficial massage can be during pregnancy (at any stage). Here is one! Massage has been shown to help with back and hip pain and fatigue.  It may also help decrease stress and anxiety, improve sleep and mood, and may also help with the pain associated with labor and delivery.  

Most Massage Therapists have some training in prenatal massage.  Going to a Massage Therapist that has advanced certification in prenatal massage is the best thing to do because they have taken classes that are specifically made for the pregnant woman.  We learn techniques, grow confident in our abilities and are not afraid to work (really work) on the pregnant body.  We have different positions for you to get in, special bolstering for your changing body and, the best part, WE WANT YOU TO COME TO US!  I have books and exercise videos for you to borrow.  I feel comfortable contacting your doctor if you are high risk and unsure if you can receive massage.  I have also become a certified reflexologist specifically so I can work on reflex points that can help with constipation, sinus problems, hip pain, etc.  I believe massage is beneficial during all trimesters and will never turn you away in your first trimester or third trimester.

Most pregnancy websites will tell you to find someone who has special certifications in prenatal massage so the massage is catered to your needs.  Your doctor may even tell you to find someone who specializes in prenatal massage.  It really is the best idea for you and your baby. Schedule your massage today and start reaping the benefits massage can offer.