First Trimester (weeks 1-12)

Everything to know about the best pregnancy massage (& who to see in London)

Jessie Day, in partnership with Serenity Space  |   21 Mar 2024


My back is so sore. But is massage safe? Will a foot massage bring on contractions? And what oils should I go for, or ask my therapist to avoid? Given that total de-stress is the goal, pregnancy massage comes with a surprising list of questions, and must-checks. 

TRB founder Eloise is in the third trimester of her second twin pregnancy (yes, you read that right!) and, between running TRB HQ, chasing after her three small children and preparing for her babies’ arrival, in serious need of tension release. 

When the fully rebranded – and totally gorgeous – south-west London Serenity Space (formerly the hugely popular Samsara Mind and Body) invited Eloise to try out their signature pregnancy massage, it was an instant yes. Preparing for her treatment, Eloise rounded up your top questions to put to her therapist and team. 

Here are a few excellent things to ask, when booking in or chatting through any massage treatment, during pregnancy.

Before you dive in, pregnancy massage at Serenity Space is a total team fave. Eloise had her most recent treatment with June James – book onto the team’s list before you pop, for our go-to, local fave pregnancy massage in London. 

pregnancy-massage-treatment-room-Serenity-Space

Huge thanks to our Serenity Space therapists for their kindness and expertise. Treatment with June James, Q&A with Aga Szkudlarek and Heather Morris. 

1. What is a pregnancy massage, exactly?

Good question! Pregnancy massage requires specific technique, and experience – not just to get all the benefits – from tension release to birthing prep – but also to ensure safety for you and baby (or, in Eloise’s case, babies!) 

A pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage, should be specifically tailored for expectant mothers to address the unique needs and discomforts associated with pregnancy.And, it should differ from a regular massage in several ways:

  •   Positioning – pregnant women typically receive massage while lying on their side, using pillows for support. This ensures the safety and comfort of both the mother and the baby
  •   Techniques – the massage therapist uses gentle and soothing techniques that avoid putting pressure on the abdomen and other sensitive areas. Techniques such as deep tissue massage may be avoided or modified, to suit the pregnant body
  •   Focus areas – pregnancy massage often targets areas of discomfort common during pregnancy, such as the lower back, hips, and legs. Therapists may also address specific issues like sciatic pain or swelling in the extremities
pregnancy massage benefits

2. What are the benefits?

Pregnancy massage is probably one of the best-known ‘treats’ of the prenatal calendar, and on almost every expectant mum’s wish list. Here are a few of the top benefits, making it one of our best-loved treatments:  

  •   Reduces muscle tension and discomfort – massage helps alleviate the strain on muscles and joints, providing relief from common pregnancy-related discomfort, such as backaches and leg cramps
  •   Improves circulation – enhanced blood and lymphatic circulation can reduce swelling in legs and promote overall wellbeing for both mother and baby
  •   Relieves stress and anxiety – pregnancy can be physically and emotionally difficult, and massage can dynamically help reduce stress hormones like cortisol, promoting relaxation and improving mood
  •   Enhances sleep quality – many expectant mothers struggle with sleep disturbance. Massage can support deep relaxation, making it easier to fall and stay asleep
  •   Prepares the body for labour – certain massage techniques may help prepare the body for labour, relieving tension in the pelvic area, and encouraging optimal foetal positioning

3. Anything to know about safety?

In principle – and depending on your unique pregnancy and health history – pregnancy massage is safe during pregnancy. Note though, that we’re talking about pregnancy massage specifically. Other techniques and massage therapies may not be safe or appropriate during pregnancy, so make sure you’re booking the right thing. 

A few points to consider and tick off, when picking your treatment: 

  •   Timing – pregnancy massage is generally considered safe after the first trimester (at 12 weeks), especially when performed by a trained and experienced therapist who understands the specific needs and considerations 
  •   Consultation – we’d advise consulting with your healthcare provider before getting a massage, especially if you’re navigating any high-risk conditions or complications
  •   Avoid certain techniques – while many massage techniques are safe during pregnancy, some should be avoided or modified. For example, some acupressure or  trigger points may need to be adjusted
best pregnancy massage

4. Massage in early pregnancy – what should we ask for?

If you think or know you’re pregnant in the early weeks, you’ll need to wait until you’re past your first trimester (12 weeks) before booking a treatment with Serenity Space. 

When booking, make sure you go for a pregnancy massage, not Swedish or deep tissue, as not all therapists are professionally trained in pregnancy massage. This is important for both technical and insurance reasons. 

During early pregnancy, the body undergoes significant changes, and the uterus is particularly sensitive. With a side-lying position, we can work on a gentle and nurturing massage that focuses on relaxation, rather than deep tissue work.

5. Is it safe to get a back massage while pregnant?

Back massage in pregnancy is generally considered safe, and can be really beneficial – especially when tailored to the expectant mother’s needs and comfort levels.

Communication with your therapist is key – let us know any specific concerns or areas of discomfort. We can then adjust the pressure and technique to give you a deeply nourishing experience, and keep you comfortable. 

6. What about foot massage?

Lots of women really enjoy and get huge benefits from foot massage in pregnancy, but certain pressure points should be avoided, especially which may stimulate uterine contractions.

Ask your therapist to focus on gentle massage techniques that promote relaxation and alleviate common foot discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as swelling and achiness.

7. Any contraindications to be aware of?

If you have a high-risk pregnancy or certain medical conditions, consult with your healthcare provider before scheduling a massage.

Certain pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia or placental abnormalities, may warrant avoiding massage or seeking approval from a healthcare provider.

pregnancy massage therapy

8. Is massage oil safe during pregnancy?

It depends which ones you or your therapist are using – but there are many fantastic options and blends available, to help you make the absolute most of your massage. 

Many natural oils, such as coconut oil or almond oil, are safe to use during pregnancy. Avoid products containing artificial fragrances, or certain essential oils (two common examples are geranium or lavender) or harsh chemicals.

If you have any concerns or sensitivities, discuss them with your massage therapist before the session. We can recommend suitable massage oils or lotions, and work with you to find just the right product.

9. What about after birth, when my baby arrives – can I get a massage?

Again, timing is key. Post-pregnancy massage – postnatal massage – can typically be initiated: 

  • six weeks after vaginal delivery
  • eight weeks after C-section, and 
  • once the mother’s body has had time to recover

Postnatal massage can dynamically support your physical recovery process, promoting healing of the muscles and tissues, relieving tension, and supporting emotional wellbeing during the postpartum period.

So it’s a fantastic to-do for your list, when the timing is right for you. 

Our top 3 stress-melting tips (aside from pregnancy massage!)

As massage therapists, we know pretty much every trick in the R&R book. Here are our top must-haves (and to-dos) for deep chill and (naturally!) serenity. 

  1. Bath therapy – try incorporating Epsom salt baths into your self-care routine. These incredible natural salts help soothe tired muscles, reduce swelling, and promote relaxation. Try TRB Editor’s fave Westlab Epsom Bath Salt – affordable, super-effective and easy to find in the shops, or online. 
  1. Prenatal yoga – incorporating prenatal yoga (check out our classes here at Serenity Space) alongside massage can enhance flexibility, reduce stress, and prepare the body for childbirth.
  1. Get a (good) pregnancy pillow supportive pregnancy pillows (the bbhugme®  is TRB Editor Jessie’s ride-or-die) have become an absolute must-have, helping enhance sleep and relaxation as your body shape shifts and changes. Put the pillow in between your knees for pelvic, back, and hip support, and see the difference in dropping off to sleep.

Ok, I’m not even pregnant and I want in on this massage team of dreams. From prenatal therapies and treatments to classes and facials, south-west London is the little black book. 

Check in with Serenity Space today, and create your bespoke baby-prep plan. 

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