Two of the most frequent questions I hear in my prenatal massage practice are "Can I get a prenatal massage if I'm still in the first trimester?" and "How late in my pregnancy can I still get a massage?" Often these questions center around an assumption that you can't get massage very early on in pregnancy OR that you can't get massage after some specific point in pregnancy. A lot of massage studios will not allow a pregnant client to get a massage in the first trimester, or in the later weeks of pregnancy, but I don't agree with this restriction.
And I want you to understand why I don't run my practice in the same way.
I came to massage having already attended training to be a doula, and with the intention of combining massage and doula work, focusing on prenatal massage. I spent my time in massage school paying very close attention to contraindications for pregnancy, special positioning, and anatomy (doing extra research to make sure I could really understand how the body changes throughout pregnancy and postpartum).
After I graduated and had attended births for about a year, I did additional training in Bodywork for the Childbearing Cycle with Susanrachel Condon, a licensed massage therapist and certified nurse midwife with over twenty years of experience. This was such a fantastic training, which deepened my understanding of the pregnant and postpartum body with specific information about anatomical, hormonal, and myofascial changes from early pregnancy, through birth and into postpartum. Susanrachel imparts in her trainings the belief that a skilled and knowledgable massage therapist taking proper precautions can provide a lot of comfort, relief and support throughout pregnancy, way beyond the light-stroke general massage only available during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters at a lot of spas.
Because of all my training, I feel confident and enthusiastic about offering therapeutic massage throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy, from the earliest weeks up to and including labor! (Yep, I've had massage clients receiving full body massage in my studio in early labor, and of course I massage many of my doula clients throughout labor.) Many massage studios do not offer massage during the first trimester, citing the increased risk of miscarriage in the first trimester. While it is true that miscarriage is more common in the first trimester, there is no evidence showing a link between massage and increased risk of miscarriage when you are receiving massage from a knowledgable provider. As with decisions and preferences about labor, birth, and parenting, I choose to share the knowledge I have about the risks and benefits of prenatal massage, and trust my client to make her own best decisions. If my client is comfortable receiving massage in the first trimester, I am comfortable giving her a massage!
So whether you just found out you are expecting, or you are expecting to go into labor any day now, if you want a massage, I'd love to give you one!