WholeBody Massage Therapy, Inc.

Eileen Monaghan, Licensed Massage Therapist




view:  full / summary

What to Expect with your First Massage

Posted on 29 May, 2020 at 8:35 Comments comments (575)

A massage is intended to be a calm and relaxing experience. But if it’s your first massage, you may feel a little trepidation. Don’t let that hold you back. With a little information about what to expect, you’ll walk into your first massage feeling like a confident pro!

Expect Communication

Expect a lot of questions at your first massage appointment. I’ll need to know a little bit about your health history and what your goals are for that session. With your confirmation email, you will find a link to my Client intake form. It is done online so you won’t need to fill any paperwork out at my office. Your clear and honest answers will help perform the best massage possible for you.

We’ll talk about why you’re coming in for a massage and what your goals are for the session. Are you having pain? Do you need to relax?

I’ll show you the massage room and walk you through the process. We’ll decide what to prioritize and how you should lay on the table (face up or face down, or on your side) before the massage.

Expect to Dress or Undress to Your Level of Comfort

What does that mean exactly? Many people worry about having to be undressed for their massage.

Most massage techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, what you wear is entirely up to you. Simply put: you can leave your underwear on or take them off. We can discuss during the intake process what you would feel comfortable with when it comes to areas that are to be massaged. You are in control of what happens with your body. Massaging the hips and lower back are a part of my massage but you decide if I will work on your hips and if it will be over the sheet or if I can expose a section of your hips to work on the skin. The upper part of your chest will be addressed (it has a lot to do with upper back tension) but I keep your breasts covered and work just above them. You will give me feedback when it comes to pressure and your comfort level and I adjust if I need to.

I’ll leave the room so you may undress, get on the massage table (it’s super-cozy), and get comfortable under the draping sheet & blanket.

Movies and TV shows always show massage clients naked on a table with just a tiny towel for draping. That’s not what real massage draping looks like! I use sheets that cover your whole body. You’ll stay covered throughout the massage, I’ll only undrape the part of your body that I am massaging right then.

Expect More Communication

When I come back into the room, I’ll help you get comfortable with pillows or bolsters. Don’t be afraid to adjust and fidget as needed during the massage to stay cozy. You can talk during the massage or stay quiet and enjoy the peaceful environment. I will occasionally ask if you are doing ok or if anything needs to be changed and I will let you know when it is time to turn over. Remember that this time is for you. I am just the facilitator. You have control over what happens during the massage.

It’s great if you can let your body relax and sink into the table. If I need to move your arms or legs, etc, I’ll do the work! This takes practice, you’ll probably try to help me. I’ll remind you. Stretching can be done passively (I’m doing all the work) or actively (you will help me). If I need your help with relaxing certain areas, I will ask (this comes back to the intake process and whether you would like to relax or are looking for more therapeutic techniques).

It’s really important for you to tell me if any massage techniques I use cause pain. Pain is not okay. There may be a certain level of discomfort and ‘good ache’ if we’re working on a problem area. It’s important that you tell me about that, too, so we can tailor the massage to be most effective without causing injury. My go-to for clients understanding pressure levels is this: If you are having a hard time breathing comfortably through a specific technique or area on the body that is being worked on, then the pressure is too much and needs to be adjusted. I take pride in being mindful of how your body is handling certain techniques or pressure and will ask how you are doing. You don’t have to wait for me to say something and please don’t hesitate to tell me because I will adjust what I am doing.

I’ll check in with you as we go, but please speak up with other little things as well. If you become too warm or too cool, if you are not comfortable on the table, or need another pillow, or if you just hate the music. Even if you need to use the bathroom, please let me know! They may seem like little things but every aspect of the massage is made to help you relax. If one thing is off, it takes away from the whole massage.

I’ll tell you when the massage is over and leave the room so you can slowly get up and dressed. Take your time getting up off the table as you may feel a little dizzy at first. I leave plenty of time between appointments so you don’t feel rushed. I will meet you back at the room with water (if you want it) and we will finish up with payment (if that’s needed) and, hopefully, reschedule for your next appointment.

Expect Some Final Instructions

You should expect to feel mellow and relaxed after your massage. We’ll talk about how you feel and I may show you some self care stretches or share some tips to keep you feeling great between appointments. We can also talk about how frequently you may want to get a massage to keep on feeling great.

If we addressed pain issues, you may immediately feel a reduction in pain, or it may take a day or two before you feel that relief.

You can make the most of your first massage by knowing what to expect and asking all the questions you like so you can feel cozy before, during and after the massage. See you at your first massage!



Keeping my office safe during the COVID-19 outbreak

Posted on 14 March, 2020 at 17:40 Comments comments (197)

With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of my stance and the precautions I am taking to ensure you are walking into a safe environment.


As of right now, I am taking appointments. I am the main source of income in my household. To ensure my family's continued prosperity, I am taking every possible step to stay healthy.


First and foremost, if YOU feel sick or you have travelled out of the country recently (or someone in your home has), please reschedule your appointment. If I get sick or anyone in my house becomes sick, I will be cancelling all appointments. I will not be charging any cancellation fees for the next 2 weeks but please try not to wait to the last minute to cancel.


If you are immune-compromised or someone in your household is, and you feel more comfortable waiting, please reschedule your appointment.


I work with clients who have compromised immune systems, I have a child at home and my father has Stage 4 lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. I do not mess around with keeping my room clean and washing my hands thoroughly. I do want to take this time to let you know my practices so you are aware.


1. My hands are thoroughly washed in between appointments.


2. I use lysol disinfectant spray between clients and clean off any surfaces that are touched during my sessions with ispropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. (This includes bottles of lotion and oil)

3. As an added measure, I am using a mixture of bleach and water (1 part bleach, 10 parts water) at the beginning and end of each day.


4. I am encouraging all clients to keep their arms under the blanket.


5. Blankets are taken home to be cleaned every night.


6. Sheets are changed after each client and the table is sprayed with lysol before I put a new, clean set of sheets on.


If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (757) 553-4052


Stay healthy and I will see you soon

Should I Cancel My Massage if I'm Sick?

Posted on 4 December, 2017 at 7:50 Comments comments (312)

Short answer: Yes, please.

Long Answer: Yes, please.

Massage is great. You know this. But it’s not always a great idea.

As cold and flu season approaches again, it’s important that you know when it may be necessary to cancel your appointment.


When you are sick, your body needs rest. It’s strange to think about it this way, but receiving massage is an active task, it is not entirely rest. Massage causes change in the body, and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from infection-fighting. That’s no good. A lot of people think that it will help you get over it faster but it doesn't and can sometimes even make you feel worse.

You’re not going to be cozy on the massage table. Sure, it sounds like a warm squishy massage table would be great. But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.

You could get me sick. Since most of the common winter viruses are contagious even before symptoms show up, I could pass the cooties along to more clients before I even know it’s happening. I also have a young daughter at home that I can also pass this off to and I really don't want her getting sick from me.

Further, when I get sick, I have to cancel clients and take a few days off work. I work for myself, with no paid sick days to compensate for lost wages. Sure, as a responsible business owner I have a fund for these situations. But I would rather use that fund for a cool toy for my daughter or a fun new tool for work. So I’m gonna try to stay germ-free this winter.

So it’s a deal. You’ll cancel so as not to infect me and my massage room, and I’ll do the same for you. We’ll keep each other safe.

When to cancel

If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the past 24 hours, or are still feeling bad from a recent bout of such things.

If you’ve had a fever in the past 24 hours, or fever-related symptoms. This includes chills, aches, and fatigue. Even if you’re keeping the fever down with medicine, you’re still sick. The fever counts.

If you are itchy, runny, and/or sneezy, and you’re not 100% certain it’s seasonal allergies. And even then, allergies may leave you so miserable that the hour on my table would be wasted time and money for you.

If you are coughing constantly, or just a lot.

If someone in your household is ill and you are feeling at all bad, please cancel.

There is often some gray area here, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection. If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me before your appointment and we can make a decision together. I do not charge late or cancellation fees when you are sick. I would rather you cancel then come in thinking that you are losing money if you don't.

Things I care about vs. Things I don't care about

Posted on 4 April, 2017 at 7:45 Comments comments (257)

From my experience, I have found that many clients seem to have the same concerns when getting on my table. I thought it would be appropriate to address these concerns on a larger scale so you know where I stand on these topics. This is not the complete list of concerns but they seem to be the most common things I hear. I am separating this between 2 categories: Things that don't concern me at all and Things I do care about and want to know. I hope this list helps to ease your mind a little when you are on my table, ready to get a massage.

Things I don't care about:

1. Body Hair: I don't think a day goes by without someone apologizing for not shaving or for having a lot of hair on their bodies. I appreciate that you are very aware of this but it is not a big deal. I probably didn't shave my legs either that day. We are human. I have a 2 year old. I am happy that I get to wash my hair and wash my body before I am interrupted so shaving is not on the top of my list. The great thing about massage is that I am using a lubricant: oil or cream, so hair doesn't affect how I do massage. I am prepared for any amount of body hair.

2. Your breath: I think most people have a concern over this. I try to alleviate this concern by having mints next to the chair where you leave your clothes. I will be totally honest; I can't smell your breath. I'm not trying to smell your breath. I am focused on the massage (and more concerned that you smell mine). I am not a science person but I think the way you are lying on the table stops your breath from moving in my direction. It is not something I am specifically looking for so I never really notice.

3. Bodily Noises: I am specifically talking about 2 noises your body makes. 1. Your stomach. It is actually a great thing to hear! If your tummy rumbles during massage, that means your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This is the part of your Nervous system that deals with relaxation. I hear a gurgle or two, it means I have done my job and I'm happy. 2. Gas. Who hasn't had a slight panic attack when you feel one coming on in the middle of a massage? I know I have! I totally understand that it is embarrassing but it's happening and there is nothing you can do but let it out. If you TRY to keep it in, all you do is tense up and I know something is wrong. It's best to just let it happen. I've said it before, many times; Better out than in. I am more than likely pushing down on an area that will make it impossible for you to not let it out. You can even warn me, if you like. Apologize afterwards but I'd rather you just let it out.

4. Falling asleep/snoring: I'm not sure why people apologize for this. You won't find too many people that are happy when someone falls asleep but that makes me proud. It means you are comfortable with me. You trust me. That is a wonderful compliment in Massage Therapy. Sleeping around a complete stranger can be very vulnerable to some and knowing that you feel safe enough to fall asleep makes my heart sing. Snoring just adds to my joy.

Things I do care about:

1. Recent and Past Medical History: This may seem like a no-brainer but there are several reasons that I need to know your medical history. There are medications that I need to be careful with pressure. If you have had surgeries, cancer, dislocated shoulders; these are medical conditions that require modifications. I want you to get the most out of your massage and I certainly don't want to leave you with a negative memory. Being honest about your medical history benefits us both. We can work toward a common goal: a better quality of life for you!

2. Your comfort: This doesn't happen with every person but I find some people won't let me know if there is something that needs to be changed. Whether it's music or the temperature of the room or my pressure, I can only fix it if you tell me. The big one, Pressure, is most important because I want you to leave feeling good. I don't want you to leave feeling like you just got hit by a train. I have firm pressure! Not everyone wants that. You may think you do but in the moment you change your mind. That is the perfect time to say, "Hold on Lady, lighten up the pressure!" I totally will and I'll be so happy that you said something!

3. Talking vs. No Talking: Please don't feel obligated to talk to me. This time is for you! I know what I got myself into when I pursued this profession. I may go the whole day without talking to anyone. It's totally fine! You can even tell me before we start that you would prefer silence. I will talk only to ask if you are doing well and to tell you to turn over. I am happy that you spoke up about your preferences. My husband may not be thrilled with a quiet day because I will go home and talk his ear off but that was his fault when he married a Massage Therapist who loves to talk! I do love talking and if you want to talk, I'm down for it. I will usually let you wind down with some quick chitchat in the beginning but I'm taking my cues from you. If you want to talk, we'll talk but if you want silence, there will be silence.

5. Your skin health: Skin health is very important to me. I need to know if you have any known skin allergies (for obvious reasons) but there are other things going on with your skin that I need to know about. Warts, Athlete's foot and other types of fungus are very important for me to be aware of because they are very contagious! Remember that I work with my hands. If I get a wart, I can't work or I'll have to wear gloves (which is very annoying because it is hard to find gloves that fit). I am also on the lookout for any suspicious moles; especially on your back or feet (places you normally don't look at or can't see). I am not diagnosing you in any way but I want to be sure that you are aware of them and should have a doctor monitor them for any changes. It is not in any way to scare you but it is good for you to know.


I believe most Massage Therapists are with me on this. I hope you feel more at ease at your next session. It's good to remember that I am human too and feel the same feelings you do. My job is to make you feel at ease in my presence. I want you to feel comfortable being honest with me. See you next time!

Why Your Feet Need a Massage

Posted on 29 December, 2016 at 8:25 Comments comments (269)

We usually don’t think about our feet. Until they hurt. We tend to take them for granted, but like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some attention.

When they start to hurt it can lead to many other problems.

When your feet hurt you don’t want to do much of anything. You just want to stay off of them. Your body likes to move, though. And your brain functions better when you are active. So foot pain can quickly lead to other issues.

Foot pain can cause other pain in your body. If your foot hurts, you change the way you stand, walk, and move. Those changes affect your legs. When your legs hurt, you make more changes in what you do, which affects your hips, then your back, then your neck.

Some jobs involve being on your feet most of the day. Often it is on hard floors or rough terrain. You may have a long walk from the parking lot to your job.

At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our belongings. We shop, stand chatting with a friend, stand in lines, and walk around doing errands. We cook, do laundry, clean and put things away. You may make multiple trips up and down stairs every day. Yard work and home maintenance keeps us on our feet as well.

You may kick things out of the way or stomp your feet to let out some frustration. You may do extra walking for exercise or from an inconvenience, or run to make it somewhere on time.

If you enjoy sports you use your feet to run, jump, and kick. Your feet take a real pounding since they support all your body weight along with the extra force from the exertion.  For exercise or fun activities you use your feet for yoga and fitness classes, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance - and hauling all of your equipment around..

Your feet have things dropped on them and they get stepped on. You step on unexpected things such as rocks, tools, or toys (Legos!).

All of your leg joints are all affected by your feet. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving foot pain allows your muscles and joints to be in their proper positions and with less pressure on them you feel better.
We squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes or boots. Sometimes it may be for the sake of fashion, such as high heels. Other times work footwear is uncomfortable. Sandals may be more comfortable but they may not provide the support your feet need.

Massage can provide relief from Plantar Fasciitis, heel pain, and other common foot pain. Most muscles that move your foot start in your calf, so relieving foot pain can also reduce calf pain too.  Reflexology is a technique that focuses on the reflex points in your feet and uses specific moves using thumbs, fingers and knuckles that aid in the total relaxation of your feet.  A routine that caters to your body's needs is carefully planned so you get the most out of your session.  You would be amazed at how good you feel; not just your feet but the whole body/mind/spirit is affected in a positive way with reflexology.

I am a Certified Reflexologist and offer a full 60 minute session on your feet!  You can also schedule a 2 hour massage with 45 minutes focused on the feet.  

Don't our feet deserve to be pampered?


Military Family Appreciation Month

Posted on 24 October, 2016 at 15:35 Comments comments (167)

 November is Military Family Appreciation Month

Imagine a normal day. You wake up, grumble about not having enough sleep, and reluctantly get out of bed. Today your day is routinely filled with work, errands, and other ordinary tasks. It’s nothing you would consider special.

Between grocery shopping and getting the oil changed in your car, you have a laundry list of things to accomplish and Junior has a soccer game tonight. And that’s all before you have a chance to get dinner on the table.

A typical day for us is filled with seemingly mundane tasks that really are quite amazing when you compare to what other families - across the country, across town, across the street - are going through.

 I’m talking about military families.

I’m talking about the families that live through all those mundane tasks but have much higher hurdles to clear. Each situation is different but they all hold a common thread; a spouse in the military.

When a serviceman or woman is deployed their spouse has to keep things together while they are away. They pick up the reins for every imaginable task. Household chores, wiping noses, paying bills, playing with the kids, vehicle maintenance…. every last project falls squarely on their shoulders.

 In 2012, military families across America, more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.

When the a military member is not deployed, their spouse is subject to the schedule given to them; countless hours of PT, missions, and all the military work involved. In some cases, the spouse is forced to leave their job - reducing their household income - due to relocating, having children, no childcare, and other reasons.

Military families (also known as "dependents") endure quite a bit of moving, too. Transferring from base to base can raise lots of challenges. Each new place requires learning the area, finding and making new friends, and countless other adjustments. Their lives are filled with change and uncertainty. And if there are children involved (usually there are), it creates instability sometimes leaving them feeling insecure.

 A 2012 demographics report states active duty members with children shows 42.4% of those children are between the ages of birth and 5  years old.

Military family members are faced with bittersweet moments too. Junior takes his first step and they can’t revel in the moment like you and I could. The excitement and thrill of this new feat can easily be followed up with a longing for the service member missing from the moment. And we’re not even talking about holidays.

Dependents are the built-in support system for our military members. They offer the connection to home, offering their love and a letter right when the troops need it most. But it doesn’t stop there, military family members are there when those in service returns from deployment. They are the ones who help pick up the pieces. Like a behind-the-scenes crew, trying to clean up the mess and sometimes at a loss as to what they can do.

 Military families are the backbone of this country.

They are constantly adjusting to someone else’s schedule and agenda, they pick up and move at a moments notice. And often they sleep in a half empty bed with a cold, vacant spot waiting for they deployed. Military spouses pick up every last toy, fold every last sock, and wipe every tear. They do whatever needs to be done and often they do it alone.

 When I think of military families I think of strength, resiliency, and courage. I think of patience and an undying support system.

I also think of the heartache and sacrifices they make. Not an easy thing to do. Friends are often hard to find and keep. And most often relatives live far away - so I have to ask, who supports them.

We live in a huge military town.  I have met several military wives and they are left, sometimes with little or no support, for months at a time.  They never sound bitter or angry.  It is a part of their life.  They all seem to say the same thing, though.  They don't get much time for themselves because their spouse is gone and they have children to take care of.  A good support system could be the one thing that can help a family get through the toughest times.

During Military Family Appreciation Month, I want you to look beyond feeling gratitude for the mundane task you need to get done. I want you to reach further than recognizing the ability to lay your head down at night feeling utterly safe.

 I want you to look at the people who support our military on every level imaginable.

Make an effort to show your appreciation for military family members. It might come in the form of dropping off a casserole, helping them plan a budget, fix a painted shut window, getting them a massage, or offering to take their kids for a few hours. Look at the many ways you can help out and DO it.

So, in honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, I’d like to say thank you to all the military families who are on the front lines of supporting the men and women who protect us.


Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Posted on 17 October, 2016 at 0:15 Comments comments (331)

I got a chance to take part in a race called Run Like a Girl today.  It is to raise money and awareness for Ovarian Cancer.  It is one of the silent cancers; you don't know you've got it until its progressed.  I thought it would be appropriate to write down the signs and symptoms of Ovarian cancer.  Remember, it is good to listen to your body.  If you think something is just not quite right, then go to your doctor.  You are your own advocate.  If you don't speak up for you, no one else will.  There was a girl at the race today that had been diagnosed at 21 and she went to the doctor because she thought she had pneumonia.  

Early Detection is Key!

The Pap test detects cervical cancer, not ovarian!  The screening tests available for detection of Ovarian Cancer are: Pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 Blood test (blood test is not always a key marker for the disease)

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
  • Back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Constipation or menstrual changes
If symptoms are new and persist for more than 2 weeks, it is recommended that a woman see her doctor and a gynecologic oncologist if cancer is suspected.

For more information on Ovarian Cancer, go to www.ocrf.org.  Please share this information with all the women you know.  It is crucial to detect it early.

The Benefits of Massage

Posted on 26 June, 2016 at 8:10 Comments comments (237)

The Benefits Of Massage

What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

A Powerful Ally

There's no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.


Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Furthermore, clients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.


Profound Effects

In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.


Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits

Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you'll be and how youthful you'll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn't mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.


Review the clinical research studies examining the benefits of massage.


Review massage information from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.



Benefits of Massage during pregnancy

Posted on 21 June, 2016 at 21:35 Comments comments (436)

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 (5186)

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.