Pregnancy Massage: Busting the Myths!

10 Pregnancy Massage Myths

There are many myths surrounding massage during pregnancy, some unfounded, and some back by outdated or lack of research. Massage schools and many health professionals still teach those myths unfortunately. Pregnancy has long been seen as a fragile condition, but new research involving pregnant women and massage shows that massage during pregnancy has many benefits for mother and baby.

The Myths of Massage during Pregnancy

1. Massage causes miscarriage

There is no evidence to suggest that massage causes miscarriage. Massage was never listed as a cause of miscarriage in any medical journal or literature.

One of the most common reasons I’ve heard from Massage Therapists for not treating pregnant people is a fear of litigation. If miscarriage occurs after a pregnant person receives massage, there appears to be a belief that the Massage Therapist will be sued. Stager failed to find any evidence of a successful lawsuit. Equally, there is no information on a massage therapist being sued (successfully or unsuccessfully) for causing a miscarriage.

2. No massage in first trimester

This myth seems to arise out of the first myth and may be connected to the fact that miscarriage most commonly (in 80% of miscarriages) occurs within the first trimester.

Again, there is no research-based or clinical reason for not touching a pregnant person during the first trimester.

3. Don’t massage over the lumbar region

Massage in the lower back is highly beneficial and very safe when performed by a massage therapist trained in pregnancy and its conditions.

4. You must have clearance from the treating medical practitioner before treating pregnant people

In some scenarios, Massage Therapists should defer to the treating doctor. (ie, some high risk pregnancies). However, unless there is a contraindication such as those listed below, there is usually no requirement to get clearance. Pregnancy trained massage therapists conduct a thorough intake and assessment at the beginning of each session.

5. Massage of the feet and ankles causes preterm labour

There is no evidence that massage of the feet and/or ankles causes any detrimental impact on the pregnant women. This myth comes from foot reflexologists and acupuncture practitioners. We need to keep in mind that foot massage and specifically targeted acupuncture points in the foot and ankle region are very different and serve a different purpose. Foot massage during pregnancy can help relieve oedema and pain and is a favourite of pregnant women!

Contraindications for Massage During Pregnancy

There are some instances where massage is contraindicated, including:

-Specific advice from treating medical professionals.

-Placenta Previa (but not in all cases)

-Some high-risk pregnancies (OB/GYN will advise):

·        Preeclampsia

·        High blood pressure/PIH (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)

·        Previous preterm labour

·        Recent bleeding

·        Preterm contractions

·        Sudden severe headache.

·        Twins or more.


By Sandy Souville

Sandy is a certified pregnancy and postnatal massage therapist, offering services to women across Melbourne no matter where they are at in their life stage. She is the owner of Melbourne Massage for Women, conveniently located in Epping. For more information on her amazing services and how to book an appointment, click HERE.



Jane Frawley et al (2016) Complementary and alternative medicine practitioner use prior to pregnancy predicts use during pregnancy, Women & Health, 56:8, 926-939

Wilcox AJ, Weinberg CR, O’Connor JF, Baird DD, Schlatterer JP, Canfield RE, Armstrong EG, Nisula BC. “Incidence of early loss of pregnancy.” N Engl J Med. 1988 Jul 28;319(4):189-94

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