Article | Category: Glossary Terms

Prenatal massage is therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the special needs of the mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of pregnancy. It enhances the function of muscles and joints, improves circulation and general body tone, and relieves mental and physical fatigue. 




Other Names:

Prenatal Massage, Mother-to-be Massage, Maternity Massage


Definition of Offering

Massage technique that is specialized to meet the unique needs of pregnant women.  Pregnancy massage employs primarily Swedish type massage strokes and usually lasts 50-60 minutes.  Special care is taken in bolstering the mother-to-be’s body to allow for the physical changes that accompany pregnancy.  Because of the complexities of pregnancy those receiving are counseled to check in with their doctor to make sure that massage is safe for them.


Description of Offering

Full body massage that utilizes specific techniques and bolstering to help relax and ease tired muscles of moms-to-be.


This offering has its roots in ancient practices.


Origin of Offering

Early Civilizations (6000+ years ago), Early Greek and Minoan Civilizations (4-5000+ years ago), Ayurveda (Ancient India), Ancient Asian Civilizations (AKA Asian/Traditional Chinese Medicine), Native American, Classic Greek Civilization (2-3000 years ago).


Brief History of the Offering

Specific references to prenatal massage can be found in ancient Ayurveda medicine texts, which recognized the need for the mental, spiritual and physical preparation of the mother-to-be for childbirth. Texts make reference to rubbing pregnant women with oils throughout the pregnancy as well as afterward.  Many cultures have their own traditions and rituals regarding pregnancy massage.  Many of these traditions involve midwives and other women who would assist the mother-to-be during her pregnancy and subsequent childbirth.  There is evidence in Asian, Jamaican, Hawaiian, Native American, Latin American, and European cultures that some form of massage was used, usually with healing oils, during a woman’s pregnancy.  Over the past 20 years Dr. Tiffany Fields, of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, has validated the use of pregnancy massage through her studies and research. 


Fun Fact

Pregnancy massage can include a brief “massaging” of the baby during the final weeks of a pregnancy and the unborn baby will react to the stimuli.  This is obviously reserved to those who are experiencing a no-risk pregnancy.




Primary Benefit Received

Stress Reduction


Other Benefits

Enhance Muscle Tone, Stimulate Mind, Increase Circulation in Body, Pain Reduction


Research Publication

Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women

Tiffany Field, MA Diego, M Hernandez-Reif, S Schanberg, C Kuhn

Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology (2009), 25(2), 115-122


Primary Findings of Research

Following massage therapy, subjects found less anxiety and depressed mood and less leg and back pain.  By the end the group had higher dopamine and serotonin levels and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrine.




Typical Length of Offering

45 - 60 minutes


The offering is most often provided one guest at a time.


Offering is primarily suited for:

Day Spa (wellness focus), Resort/Hotel/Cruise Ship Spa, Destination Spa, Medical Clinic/Spa, Hospital/Rehabilitation Center, Club Spa (day or residential).


How many treatment providers are needed to produce the offering?



Common License/Certification or Training necessary to provide the offering:

Massage Therapist (general training), Massage Therapist (with supplemental training).


Information about the most often used offering protocol

Prenatal Massage - A textbook of pregnancy, labor, and postpardum bodywork

Elaine Stillerman

Prenatal Massage (2008)


Type of space/facility most often used for the offering:

Private Dry Treatment Room


Type of space/facility that can be use for the offering:

One on One Consultation Area.


How many towels are used?

1 - 4


Does the guest generally use a robe and/or a wrap for the offering?



How many sheets are used?



Does the offering require the use of products (i.e. lotions, lacquers, scrubs, cleansers, etc.)?



How many different products are used?



Approximate product cost per treatment:

$3 USD


Products used:

Oil or Lotion that is deemed “pregnancy safe”.


Does the offering require the use of disposable supplies (i.e. cotton squares, balls and swabs, lancets, etc.)?



Equipment and supplies needed to provide the offering:

Raised Massage-style Table, Technician Chair, Pillow(s)/Bolster(s), Blanket(s), Pregancy Pillow/Bolster.


Beyond labor, linens, disposable supplies and products, please list any other direct costs associated with the offering?



Including only the following items (products, disposable items, linen laundry, and other direct costs---not labor), what is the typical cost of the offering?

$1 - $5 USD


Comments about offering costs.

Cost depends on the product used and amount of linens.  Very basic needs.


Typical single session price of the offering.

$80 - $180 USD


Comments about offering price.

Determined by the local market and the facility where you receive the service.




Publication used to prepare this submission.

Massage and Pregnancy

American Pregnancy Association

Prenatal Massage (2015)


Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology

Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women

Tiffany Field, MA Diego, M Hernandez-Reif, S Schanberg, C Kuhn

Volume 25, Issue 2 (2009), 115-122


Health and Pregnancy


Pregnancy Massage (2014)


Prenatal Massage-A textbook of pregnancy, labor, and postpardum bodywork (2008)

Elaine Stillerman


Author Information

Shane Bird

Director of Spa Operations, Turning Stone Resort


Author Biography

Shane Bird has been in the spa industry for 17 years.  He has worked in many facets of the spa industry.  He worked for Canyon Ranch for 10 years and has sat of various ISPA task forces. Recently he has been a director for Starwood and Turning Stone.  Shane lives in Fayetteville, New York with his wife and three kids.


Editor Information:

Mary Wisnom

Professor, School of Resort & Hospitality Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, USA