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Can Thai Massage Be Safely Performed On Pregnant Women?

Thai Massage on pregnant women

The combination of Thai Massage and pregnancy is not so widely known, but those women who have received it know how great it feels and what a relief it can bring them.

In my 20-year career as a Thai Massage therapist I have worked on quite a few pregnant women and have observed the effects of this work on them. Let me share these observations with you.

Are Thai Massage techniques suitable for pregnancy massage?

thai pregnancy massage

Often people wonder if Thai Massage can be done on pregnant women. The answer is: “Yes of course! Why not?”

Some people have the erroneous concept that Thai Massage is a mandatory sequence of massive stretches.

This is just not true. Thai Massage includes lots of techniques for working on the legs, feet, arms, hands, neck, and head. All of these can be done as part of pregnancy massage quite easily without even touching a woman’s midsection.

You just have to use more props and pillows for comfort. Especially the side position lends itself quite well to pregnancy massage.

Thai pregnancy massage case histories

I remember the case of a nine months pregnant woman who really wanted a Thai Massage. I did some work on her in the side position with a pillow under her extended belly, mostly working on her legs.

Then I propped her upper body up with lots of pillows to a 45-degree angle and worked on her neck, shoulders, head, and face. She totally loved it.

On another occasion I was invited to the birthday party of a friend of mine who was eight months pregnant. I offered her a massage as a birthday present.

She chose a foot massage since her feet were really aching. After 30 minutes of foot massage she rejoined the party and felt much better.

There is no reason to be afraid of massaging pregnant women. In my experience they are very much in tune with their bodies and are quite intuitive about what works for them.

As long as you communicate with them and ask them what feels right and what doesn’t, they will tell you. Let them guide you through the pregnancy massage. They will be happy to tell you exactly what feels right for them.

Which Thai Massage techniques work for pregnancy massage?

If a woman is just a  few months pregnant, you can generally do many Thai Massage techniques on her. However you should avoid any techniques which compress, stretch, or twist the midsection.

If she is highly pregnant, common sense dictates that you cannot do strong stretches and pressure techniques that affect her midsection. Also upper body twists should not be done.

Non-stretch Thai Massage techniques

Thai Massage is not just a series of stretches. There are many techniques that work on muscles with no stretching at all. They can be done quite gently with kneading, rolling, rocking, and squeezing.

Thai Massage has a reputation to be all about stretching. The fact is that it is quite possible to do an entire two-hour Thai Massage session without doing any stretching at all.

I know that for a fact since I have done it countless times in my 20 years of practicing Thai Massage.

There is a tendency that Western Thai Massage therapists work with lots of stretching, whereas therapists in Thailand actually do much more muscle manipulation with less stretching. I have received countless sessions that involved very little stretching.

It does not matter how pregnant a woman is, you can always give her a great Thai Foot Massage, hand and arm massage, or neck, head, and face massage.

Depending on the progress of her pregnancy you can often work quite effectively on her back, hip, and shoulders in the side position.

Miscarriage issues

The first trimester is where the risk of miscarriage is the highest. You should ask your pregnant client if she has had a miscarriage before.

Although it is highly unlikely that your massage will ever be the cause of a miscarriage, you might want to protect yourself from possible accusations by having your client sign a disclaimer that absolves you from responsibility in case your client miscarries and blames you. 

For potential contraindications please read this article.

Thai Massage, oil massage, and yoga for pregnancy

pregnancy massage and yoga are a great combination

While Thai Massage is not a contraindication for pregnant women, it is definitely a job for an experienced therapist whose repertoire includes plenty of non-stretch techniques.

If you want to work directly on the torso and midsection of a highly pregnant woman, this is better done with oil massage.

In all other cases, Thai pregnancy massage can be used effectively provided the therapist has the appropriate skills and experience.

Combining Thai Massage with oil massage can also be an excellent way of working on pregnant women.

Thai Massage and yoga are closely related. There are many yoga classes specifically designed for pregnant women. Yoga stretches and exercises can make pregnancy and delivery a much smoother and more pain-free experience.

It follows logically that Thai Massage can be equally beneficial for pregnancy massage.

Let’s not forget about post-pregnancy massage

Clearly pregnancy puts a lot of stress on the body, and post-pregnancy massage is a wonderful way to get the body back in its best shape quickly.

Thai Massage is ideal for this since it does exactly what a highly pregnant woman has had a hard time doing during her pregnancy: lots of movement and stretches and joint manipulations.

The Thai Healing Massage family of bodywork includes an online course on Abdominal Massage which is ideal for post-pregnancy massage.

Specialized Thai Massage Therapy Courses

Visit Thai Healing Massage Academy’s ONLINE training library with 20 Thai Massage courses for all your training needs and all levels of skills.

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The author, Shama Kern, founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy

The author, Shama Kern, is the founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy. He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for over two decades, and he is the creator of 20 online Thai Massage training courses.

Related Reading:
Thai Massage Contraindications Part 2
Thai Massage And Serious Diseases
Massage During Pregnancy
Prenatal Massage

12 thoughts on “Can Thai Massage Be Safely Performed On Pregnant Women?”

  1. Nice informative article….thanks for tips here….U r right that it does not matter how pregnant a woman is, we can always give her a great Thai foot massage, hand and arm massage, or neck, head and face massage. Depending on the progress of her pregnancy we can often work quite effectively on her back, hip and shoulders in the side position.

  2. Hello there, thanks for offering information about pregnancy and Thai massage.

    I feel a bit worried because I just had an hour Thai massage with a woman that said she knew pregnancy massage, but I feel that she may have done minimal training.

    I am 8 weeks pregnant and I would say low risk. She massaged freely around my ankles and on my shoulders firmly. She did not of course massage my tummy or lower back.

    I am just wanting some feed back as to whether this will be really a bad experience for me and my fetus and cause it any problems? As I know in the first trimester the fetus is really just starting to bond and grow in the uterus and it can be a fragile time.

    Thank you.

    I know where I can get a professional pregnancy massage, and I will certainly go, now that I feel uncertain about the one I just had!

    Thank you kindly and I wold really appreciate your trained opinion.

    Love from Elly

    • Hi Elly,

      I just want to officially state that I am not a doctor and cannot give qualified medical advice. But I can offer my opinion which you can accept or not. And my opinion is, based on my experience and what you tell me, that I would not worry about any negative aftereffect of this massage. There are some pressure points which are not supposed to be pressed during pregnancy, but massaging around the ankles is not the same as applying sustained pressure on specific points. The same goes for the shoulders.

      There is no problem with massaging around the ankles and shoulders during pregnancy. Most general Thai Massage therapists wouldn’t know those specific points anyway and therefore would most likely not apply deep pressure on them. Accidentally or briefly touching one of those points will have not have dangerous effects.

      So I doubt that any harm was done. I don’t know how experienced this particular therapist was in regards to pregnancy massage. But especially during the early stages of pregnancy there is no high risk even with a general Thai Massage as long as the therapist observes some common sense and obvious precautions around the abdomen.

      The further your pregnancy progresses, the more important is is to look for a therapist with experience in pregnancy massage. Not even because a general massage therapist would be dangerous. Massage is really not a high risk treatment unless the therapist is terrible. But the more experience a therapist has with massage the more benefit you will get and also you will feel better taken care of.

      I always emphasize that pregnant women generally have a good sense of intuition what is good for them and what should be avoided. Never hesitate to communicate that to your massage therapist.. There is nothing wrong or offensive with asking your therapist if she has any experience massaging pregnant women and how confident she is about it.

      It is important to exercise healthy caution and I totally understand your concern, but I think in this case it does not appear that you need to worry about anything.

  3. Great! Thanks for this information, Shama.So important to let people, women in particular, know, that what is unknown does not necessarily mean is dangerous.
    The only challenge might be to find an experienced professional.

  4. Hi,
    I do thai massage and I’m pregnant of 24 weeks. I’m not really practicing now, but i was wondering about giving massage… would you recommend it?
    Thank you so much

  5. Is it safe for a pregnant woman around 17 weeks to get a pedicure? They did a Thai chop on her back and shoulders while she was in the chair. I. Just concerned. Thanks.

    • There is certainly nothing dangerous about the pedicure. The Thai chop is a strange addition but should not cause any harm unless done brutally strong. Personally I don’t like the Thai chop and always tell therapists not to do it. In our school we replace it with a more gentle, more effective, and more enjoyable percussion technique.


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