Pregnancy Care

It has been my pleasure to treat many pregnant mothers over the last 12 years I have been a qualified therapist. I have massaged many women through several pregnancies and it has been an absolute honour to do so.

Pregnancy Massage, Osteopathy for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a dynamic time for a woman encompassing many changes anatomically and physiologically. From the moment of conception hormones fluctuate and mobilise causing a beautiful cascade of changes required in the body for the special purpose of carrying a baby.

Pregnancy massage and osteopathy are a lovely way of helping the body through these changes. In the early months many hormonal changes are occurring and the body adjusts to pregnancy.  It is common to feel nauseas as the levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogens rise and this normally settles down. Physically not much is visible on the outside but much is changing on the inside.


"Becoming a mother for the first time has been an amazing journey. But growing a human being is not easy, your body throws all sorts of surprises at you that you’d never expect and no-one warns you of.

I initially booked my treatments with Heather as a indulgent gift to myself, as I was cutting back on others (i.e. nights out, shopping, gym). However my visits became essential for me and my general functioning. Heather’s massages helped me stay limber and eased my joint pain as baby grew, I believe this in the long run helped me with the birthing process (I had a very fast and easy birth), it also helped me keep working. In my professional life a large part of what I do is manual labour and keeping psychically active and fit is vital. My back ache was minimalised thanks to her efforts.

Also almost as important as the psychical benefits was the sense of serenity that followed each treatment. I cannot advocate how important it is to stay in a positive mind set while pregnant which can be challenging as pregnancy is scary and stressful (even during “easy” pregnancies). Heather’s treatments left me feeling relaxed, happy and peaceful. Something money can’t buy. This is something every pregnant woman should have and should be made mandatory for pregnancy."
Lisa Belai


After 12 weeks and the foetus has settled, is time to look at starting massage therapy.

The biggest benefit of massage at this time is to calm and relax the mother and begin to focus on helping the particular mother’s anatomy adjust to pregnancy. A relaxed mum is a relaxed baby. In a few months time the mother will be changing shape to accommodate the baby and the centre of gravity changes. At this time the therapist can look at the individual person’s body type and focus the massage on the areas that will need to expand and be dynamic in the next coming months.

As the baby grows from the 4 to 9 month period the pressure on the lower rib cage grows as the uterus takes up the space towards the stomach, the lower ribs begin to expand slightly, and this can sometimes be uncomfortable. Massage and osteopathic techniques targeted towards this area can help the joint and tissues change and ease into the new shape.

In the later months of pregnancy from 7 to 9 months the hormones oxytocin and relaxin are beginning to be released and target certain areas. The pelvic ligaments relax and the other ligaments follow; the lower (lumbar) spine becomes more curved and a more waddling gait may occur. The springy ligaments in the foot may relax also, and the foot spread. The circulatory flow to the lower limb is under pressure from the pregnancy and legs can become swollen and varicose veins can develop. This is genetically based, if your mum or grandmother had varicose veins it is likely they may occur in you. Manual therapy can relieve this fluid build up and congestion in the tissues, easing aching legs and boosting circulation.

As an osteopath and manual therapist I work with the changes occurring to each individual woman’s body and tailor each treatment to work with the changes and facilitate the ease of these changes.  By working the soft tissues and joints affected the transition of these areas through pregnancy is eased, muscle and joint tension is relieved and circulation enhanced.  Massage therapy also calms the central nervous system, encouraging relaxation and well being.

When such changes occur it is comforting to have someone there who sees and knows how your body is changing.  Massage therapy and osteopathy can be focused tools for health and well-being and provide support through the dynamic process of pregnancy.


Related Articles and References

Lavelle, J.M., 2012. Osteopathic manipulative treatment in pregnant women. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 112(6), pp.343-346.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Hart, S., Theakston, H., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C. & Burman, I. (1999). Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20, 31-38.
Twenty-six pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group for 5 weeks. Both groups reported feeling less anxious after the first session and less leg pain after the first and last session. Only the massage therapy group, however, reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the study.

Latifses, V., Bendell Estroff, D., Field, T., & Bush, J. (2005). Father massaging and relaxing their pregnant wives lowered anxiety and facilitated marital adjustment. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 9, 277-82.
Fathers learned to massage their pregnant wives conducted progressive muscle relaxation. Massage therapy lowered the fathers’ anxiety and improved marital adjustment.

Field, T., Deed, O., Diego, M., Gualer, A., Sullivan, S., Wilson, D. & Nearing, G. (2009). Benefits of combining massage therapy with group interpersonal psychotherapy in prenatally depressed women. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therpies, 13, 297-303.
One hundred and twelve pregnant women who were diagnosed depressed were randomly assigned to a group who received group Interpersonal Psychotherapy or to a group who received both group Interpersonal Psychotherapy and massage therapy. The data suggested that the group who received psychotherapy plus massage attended more sessions on average, and a greater percentage of that group completed the 6-week program. The group who received both therapies also showed a greater decrease in depression, depressed affect and somatic-vegetative symptom scores on the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scal , a greater decrease in anxiety scale scores and a greater decrease in cortisol levels. The group therapy process appeared to be effective for both groups as suggested by the increased expression of both positive and negative affect and relatedness during the group therapy sessions.

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O. & Figueiredo, B. (2009). Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression. Infant Behavior & Development, 32, 454-460.
One hundred and twelve pregnant women who were diagnosed depressed were randomly assigned to a group who received group Interpersonal Psychotherapy or to a group who received both group Interpersonal Psychotherapy and massage therapy. The data suggested that the group who received psychotherapy plus massage attended more sessions on average, and a greater percentage of that group completed the 6-week program. The group who received both therapies also showed a greater decrease in depression, depressed affect and somatic-vegetative symptom scores on the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, a greater decrease in anxiety scale scores and a greater decrease in cortisol levels. The group therapy process appeared to be effective for both groups as suggested by the increased expression of both positive and negative affect and relatedness during the group therapy sessions.

Field, T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage therapy. Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5, 177-181. Women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 h shorter with less need for medication. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity.