Is it okay to get a massage from a massage chair while pregnant or expecting?
This is a question oft-asked by pregnant women and by the end of this article you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
Trawling through different websites and forums, we’ve seen women advise each other that massage chairs are safe to use during one’s pregnancy. They talk about working in salon X or spa Y and seeing pregnant women using the massage chairs all the time. Disturbingly, a lot of the answers to be found in the internet are dangerously and simplistically anecdotal.
So what’s the real deal?
The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pregnant Women
Anybody who has experienced the joys of having a good massage can understand why pregnant women would like a massage chair session. Pregnant women can get to a place where they are very tired, stressed, and even burnt out from the rapid hormonal and physical changes that they are experiencing.
It does sound like a piece of heaven to put your feet up, get a respite from the added weight and pressure, and get a relaxing massage.
According to numerous studies conducted in the past few years, massage therapy has the following benefits for pregnant women:
- decreased depression and anxiety
- lessened leg and back pain
- less pain during labor
- labor duration is cut by 3 hours
- lessened need for medication during labor
- decreased risk for premature births
Massage therapy has proven so beneficial that it is now the most common alternative therapy recommended for pregnant women.
Make no mistake though. These studies involved massage therapy and NOT massage chairs. This means the massages were given by certified professions and not by a mechanical machine. Also, these massages are specialized pregnancy and labor massages.
And while no studies exist validating the safety of massage chair use by pregnant women, there are guidelines for their use.
When Pregnant Women Should Stay Clear Of Massage Chair Use
While friends or other people will swear up and down that it’s okay for you to get on a massage chair, pregnant women should avoid a massage chair at all costs in the presence of:
- first term pregnancy
- high risk pregnancy
- a history of pre-term labor
- swelling or inflammation
- severe headaches
- severe or shooting lower back pain
Potential Dangers of Massage Chair Use while Pregnant
Health care professionals themselves don’t agree on whether it’s okay for expecting or pregnant women to use massage chairs. Those who are against their use are specifically concerned about the following:
A massage chair’s heating element
Most massage chairs have lumbar heat or a heating wand. When used by a pregnant woman, it will elevate her temperature followed by the baby’s temperature too. And while the expecting mother may feel pleasure or even slight discomfort, the baby in the womb is in danger. The smaller the baby, the more vulnerable to temperature elevations that cause heart rate spikes.
Pressure points stimulated by a massage chair
Some medical professionals argue that massage chair use stimulates pressure points that may induce early labor and other complications. This is easy to imagine as massage chairs tout pressure point stimulation as one of their basic features.
Using a Massage Chair in the First Trimester
While some spas will refuse to give a massage in the first trimester for liability reasons, some trained massage therapists will give pregnant women a massage because benefits are high and the risks are low. They will avoid deep tissue massage, and the biggest no-no is working directly over the lower pelvic area in the region near the uterus. Remember that a massage chair is essentially a robot and will not be able to make the necessary adjustments.
The first trimester is the most risky time to lose a child. Your body could probably do without the increased stimuli. If you do decide to get a massage chair or already have one, don’t use it for the first trimester.
So Can You Use Massage Chairs While Pregnant?
If you are pregnant and considering whether to get on that massage chair or not, we at Complete Home Spa would dissuade you from doing so. We think that the advantages (a pleasurable massage experience) are simply outweighed by the potential risks. For the moment, take comfort in the thought that this phase will only last for 9 months (though they may seem interminably long for now).
Here are other alternatives to a massage chair session for now:
- Traditional massage
- Yoga for pregnant women
- Acupuncture sessions
- Chiropractic therapies
It is important to take note that the above should all be done with the assistance of a licensed and certified professional trained to work with pregnant women. Admittedly, these are costly and may not fit your budget.
In such cases, how about the following relaxing tips that you can do at home?
- Listening to relaxing music
- A special pampering day by the hubby
Good luck with the pregnancy, stay safe, and get back to us when the little one is out. Trust us. You’ll need a massage chair for relaxation later on! (That’s when you should read our epic guide to buying a massage chair with recommendations for every budget.)