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Can a Massage Help Induce Labor?

Updated: Jun 11

And the incredible benefits of massage therapy during pregnancy


First, lets talk about the incredible benefits of massage therapy during pregnancy and during labor: Do you want shorter labor? Less depression, anxiety, and back pain? Reduced chances of having your baby prematurely? Our guess is YES… The benefits of prenatal massage are outstanding and they are way more than "feeling good." To learn more about prenatal massage and induction massage... read on!

massage to ready the body to go into labor


Massage therapy has been shown to help in pregnancy with reduced depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain (Fields). Cortisol (stress hormone) levels decrease with the use of massage. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy {during labor} experienced less labor pain and their labors were an average of 3 hours shorter with less need for medication. Another 2 studies showed less incidence of prematurity ( 4% vs 16% in one study and 0% vs 11% in another study). In another study, postpartum depression was reduced in the massage group postpartum (Fields).


A study researched acupressure, reflexology, and aromatherapy and found that those receiving this had shorter labors (but there was no difference in reduction in medical induction between groups receiving acupressure, reflexology, and aromatherapy and those who did not).


Overall the benefits of massage therapy are outstanding… so much so that every expecting person should get massage therapy! Our massage therapy team has specialized training in prenatal massage and uses special tables with belly cut outs, which allows you to lay face down for short periods. Our massage rooms are also equipped with bolsters/ ramps to keep you in a safe position on your side or back (elevated) and our therapy team uses massage cream with only coconut oil and beeswax (no chemicals!)


Ok, so I am sold on the benefits of prenatal massage! Now, what is induction or a labor-focused massage?


When we think of induction, we think of using devices or medication to stimulate cervical ripening and uterine contractions to start the birth process. Medical induction has become even more common in the last 10 years. “Induction massage” that we do really is more of a labor-focus massage. The goal is to help the birther relax, release any fears holding the birther back, encourage the body to naturally begin the labor process, and ease tension in the muscles and joints to create a clear, balanced pelvis. We use:

  • Massage

  • Reflexology (pressure points on the back of the legs, feet, and hands)

  • Visceral manipulation

  • Craniosacral therapy

  • Essential oils


induction massage to help baby's position and ready the mother for labor

Labor-focused massage (aka induction massage) uses massage, specific essential oils, specific pressure points, and visceral and craniosacral techniques after 39 weeks (at the request of the birther) and we find good success with this type of massage after 40 weeks of gestation.


Does it work?

The fact is that we do not fully understand what makes birthers go into labor. In most cases, labor will begin when your body and your baby are ready and one thing we do know is that the birther needs to feel safe. A labor-focused type of massage relax the birther, increase the birthers endorphins and triggers the release of oxytocin to hopefully begin the snowball effect of starting the process of labor.


Like all natural induction methods, a labor-focused massage may or may not work! If there are emotional or physical restrictions holding back the start of labor, massage therapy is a wonderful way to release those to let your baby and body get things started.


If you receive a labor-focused/ induction massage at our practice, you will receive a short survey after your appointment to help us determine if our clients do or do not go into labor within 48 hours. So far, the results of our internal survey are that 75% of clients do go into labor within 48 hours if they are >40 weeks gestation.


 

Book your labor-focused or induction massage today!


Current patients can click here to book, while new patients can click here to schedule their first appointment.


We “hold” 1-2 slots weekly for these appointments - just in case you go longer than your due date - so reach out if we look booked.

 

Field T. Pregnancy and labor massage. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar;5(2):177-181. doi: 10.1586/eog.10.12. PMID: 20479957; PMCID: PMC2870995.



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