Prenatal Massage and Acupuncture: Benefits for Mom and Baby

Posted: Jul 06 2018

Prenatal Massage and Acupuncture: Benefits for Mom and Baby

Various studies have demonstrated that massage can be greatly beneficial, as well as, safe for pregnant women if provided by a trained and experienced massage therapist. It can also be recognized that the developing baby can benefit as well. In 1999, Dr. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami, published research results showing that pregnant women who receive massage experience: reduced anxiety, improved mood, reduced back pain and improved sleep! The women who received massage reported fewer complications in labor and fewer premature babies. As research in the field of alternative medicine continues, it has been clearly proven that massage and acupuncture is effective in reducing the stress-related hormone (cortisol), which may be viewed as a factor that can contribute to premature babies.    

As mentioned before, there are many benefits to prenatal massage and acupuncture; one of which is emotional nurturing. Pregnancy can be both an exciting and anxious time for most women.  The emotional nurturing and centering that happens during massage and acupuncture treatments cannot be undervalued for women who commonly feel a new vulnerability and lack of control in their life. Not to mention the new wave of pregnancy related hormones. A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that 63% of pregnant women had decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Medically speaking, let it be known that massage and acupuncture produces endorphins (the feel good hormones), reduces catecholamines (stress hormones), and can lower blood pressure.

While we are reducing stress in the body, we are also treating pain. It is well known and understood that emotional stress can lead to physical stress and pain. As the fetus develops in utero, a woman’s muscular and skeletal systems instinctively adjust to her new center of gravity. The muscles that are required to keep the spine upright get taxed creating a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. These toxins adhere to the muscle fibers and as a result cause nerve irritation. Massage and acupuncture  is valuable in this situation in that it can break up those adhesions, release trigger points caused by these irritated nerve bundles, and circulate new blood though the area to increase oxygen and flush out toxins.  Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports acupuncture could reduce pain in the lower back along with pelvic pain. The study showed that 80% of pregnant women in their late second and third trimesters had clinically significant reduction in pain after 1 week of receiving acupuncture on specific points on the ear, wrists and ankles.  This idea can be applied to the undesired “pregnancy induced sciatica” which is, pain radiating from the lower back and down the leg. More often than not, this pain is caused by inflamed and irritated muscles in the hip (Piriformis and sometimes Gluteus Medius) adjusting to the pregnancy posture and pressing on the sciatic nerve. If this nerve irritation is caused by the Piriformis and glute muscles, the pain will not radiate passed the knee joint. If this is the case for you, book a massage and/or acupuncture appointment sooner rather than later, we will know what to do!

A reduction in joint pain is another common product of prenatal massage. As the weight of your developing baby increases, so does your blood volume, interstitial fluid (swelling and edema) and intrauterine fluid. Combined, this adds significant pressure on the hip, knee and ankle joints of an expecting mother. Massage can reduce edema and increase circulation around those joints to decrease pain.

With the healing powers of acupuncture and massage therapy, we can improve your sleep by calming your nerves and emotions and decrease your pain. We can also provide you with tips and tricks to help you sleep more structurally comfortable to ensure you have a pain free night of sleep. In addition to the topics above, studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce morning sickness by balancing out the body’s hormones.  

Need a certified Massage Therapist or Acupuncturist? Check out our practitioner's page or drop us a line - we'll help you find someone close to you. 

By Devon Jarvis R.Ac, RMT


Prenatal health through massage therapy: For Women and Their Babies. (2002). New Life Journal: Carolina Edition, 4(3), 3.