Massage in the First Trimester

Many massage therapists are taught that massage is contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy. The reason generally cited is that there is a greater risk of miscarriage during the first trimester and that massage may be an extra risk factor for miscarriage. There are many establishments and massage therapists who simply refuse to perform pregnancy during the first trimester. For many of these therapists the main reason they reject potential clients is because of litigation and perceived liability.



The first trimester miscarriage rate at least 15% and other therapists adopt the view that they never want to put a mother to be who may have a miscarriage for unknown reasons ever wonder if the massage they gave her caused her miscarriage. And for them the reason isn't the liability...it's the making her feel that she may have done something wrong by having a massage.

However, if someone has a sound pregnancy then as long as proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that by properly giving someone a massage that their pregnancy could be harmed.

Miscarriages occur very frequently during pregnancy and most of them cannot be avoided, they are very rarely caused by anything expectant mothers do or do not do. The vast majority of miscarriages are caused by a chromosomally abnormal embryo, reproductive structural abnormalities (retroverted uterus, fibroids, etc), infections (rubella, listeria, etc) ectopic pregnancies, maternal diseases, maternal age and environmental factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to organic solvents or to first- or second hand smoke. Massage does not contribute to any of these risk factors and is not a causative for miscarriage. (However it does need to be stress that symptoms such as bleeding, abdominal pain, cramping, etc are contraindications for massage at any time during pregnancy).

Another reason given for massage therapists not wishing to massage during the first trimester is the issue of morning sickness. However, most mums-to-be just simply won't want to be massaged anyway if they are experiencing nausea and morning sickness.

Other therapists are concerned that massage may dislodge the placenta (particularly for abdominal massage). This again has no scientific basis as the placental is firmly attached to the uterus and appropriate massage will do nothing to disturb the attachment (although permission should be granted before massaging her abdomen at any time during the pregnancy).

It is always advisable to talk to your midwife, GP or any health-care practitioner before having a massage (particularly if you are not receiving regular massage).

For a massage forum discussion on the subject of first trimester pregnancy massage check out BodyworkOnline.com


Elaine Stillerman (author of 'Mother Massage') advises for massage therapists 'Properly trained prenatal massage practitioners can safely and effectively address first-trimester concerns. For those of you who work in establishments where first-trimester massage is avoided, liability is a major contributing factor to this decision. Since the management has set this business policy, you have to adhere to what management decrees. In private practice, however, you can base your decision on science and appropriate training, not fear or misconceptions.'



By Richard Lane


Any information, advice, recommendations, statements or otherwise contained herein, or in any other communication whether oral or in writing, is not intended to replace or to be a substitute for medical advice trained by a trained physician or healthcare practitioner.
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