How Massage Therapy Eases Pregnancy Discomfort

Pregnancy is one of life’s most miraculous journeys — but it can also be an uncomfortable one. Aches and pains, enlarged breasts, hormone fluctuations, morning sickness, insomnia, and fatigue are common in pregnant women. Fortunately, massage therapy is an effective treatment for many of these discomforts.

Studies support the many benefits of massage for pregnant women. A 2020 study found that expecting mothers who had regular 20-minute sessions in their second trimester reported less depression than those who did not receive massage. And the positive effects carried into the postpartum period.

Back pain is common during pregnancy, especially as the baby grows and presses on the lumbar spine. A pregnancy massage can ease the pressure on the lower back, neck, and shoulders by focusing on the areas most affected.

Leg and foot swelling (edema) is another common symptom of pregnancy. A foot massage can help reduce fluid build-up in the ankles and feet, which can alleviate some of the discomfort associated with this symptom.

Fatigue is a frequent complaint of pregnant women, due to fluctuating hormones, anemia, and a lack of sleep from changing sleeping positions. A light pregnancy massage can stimulate the release of serotonin and melatonin, which promote relaxation and boost energy levels.

In addition to alleviating pain and discomfort, massage can also promote healthy pregnancies by reducing stress and anxiety. A 2009 study in Infant Behavior and Development found that pregnant women who received massages twice per week over a three-month period had lower cortisol levels and were less likely to give birth prematurely.

It is important to talk with your doctor before receiving a pregnancy massage. If you have a high-risk pregnancy with complications, such as bleeding or pre-term contractions, or if you have the condition known as preeclampsia, which can cause severe hypertension, massage may not be appropriate.

If you are having a low-risk pregnancy, a massage may be covered by your health insurance or flexible spending account if you have one. Be sure to bring a copy of your doctor’s note to your massage appointment, so that your therapist can provide you with the necessary paperwork to submit for reimbursement. If you are not covered by health insurance, you can still receive a massage at a reasonable cost by taking advantage of the tax breaks available for medically necessary services. If you use a Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account, you can deduct the cost of a prenatal massage up to $1,000 if it is approved by your healthcare provider as medically necessary. See if your healthcare provider has a list of approved massage therapists, or speak with your obstetrician to find a qualified practitioner in your area. A credentialed Atlanta prenatal massage therapist will be able to work with you safely, modifying the pressure applied, avoiding certain pressure points, and using a firmer mattress or pillow to accommodate your changing body. They will avoid massaging varicose veins, which can lead to blood pooling and a possible clot. For more details on prenatal massage visit

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