Can Pregnancy Massage induce a Woman into Labour? By Keturah Stoltenberg
Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond Massage
As a Remedial Massage Therapist who specialises in Pregnancy, Birth and Postnatal Massage, I often get asked whether I can help a pregnant woman be induced into Birth Labour.
Often this question is asked in response to being ‘booked in’ for a Medical Induction, and wanting to avoid this kind of start to labour, or just feeling ‘over it’ and wanting to ‘get the baby out!’
Labour Induction is a medical term and massage therapy is a non-pharmacological treatment, so in short, massage therapy will not directly bring a woman into Birth Labour.
There may be many reasons why a woman is not going into spontaneous labour.
It may be that it is still too early, and her baby and body are simply not ready.
Perhaps, she is holding onto tension, of a physical or emotional nature.
A fear of the process or struggling with unresolved issues or trauma can also compromise the organic progression of labour.
What we do know about massage is that it can promote a relaxation response and can have a bearing on the Autonomic Nervous System.
The Autonomic Nervous System regulates certain body processes, including blood pressure and the rate of breathing. This system works automatically (autonomously) without a person’s conscious effort.
Remaining in a state of the Sympathetic Nervous System, better known as the “flight or fight” response, keeps a woman in a stressed and holding place inhibiting her from entering into the state of the Parasympathetic Nervous System, otherwise known as “rest and digest”, where she can relax.
Pregnancy Massage can facilitate the emotional wellbeing of the woman, by encouraging positive feelings and the confidence to ‘let go’ of her inhibitions and feel emotionally held. This in turn can have a positive effect on her readiness to birth her child.
Massage increases blood and lymphatic circulation, bringing greater oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the mother and baby. This will result in more energy for the mother and increased nourishment for the baby.
Pregnancy Massage is also a great tool to facilitate body awareness, brain-body connection, self-reflection and a feeling of wellness and balance.
During the treatment, musculoskeletal imbalances can be addressed, including restriction of the pelvis, hip rotators, hip flexors, lumbar area, and jaw.
Carefully adapted deep tissue, myofascial, passive movement and trigger point techniques can be used to release chronic tension and increase flexibility in the adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and rotators of the hip joint so that the woman can comfortably adopt a variety of positions during labour.
Assessing the position of the pregnant woman’s pelvis and gently working with her focus can provide a more optimal alignment for safe passage of her baby.
Myofascial release, stretching, postural alignment, and other support measures may be used to relieve pain from strain to all the ligaments of the uterus, as it supports the significant growth of the baby.
Abdominal effleurage may be adapted to a woman ready for labour.
Using long strokes and circular fingertip movements that flow upward from the pubic area will mimic the lifting action of the uterine muscles and assist in relieving pressure of the lower abdominal muscles.
Holding tension in a clenched jaw makes it more difficult for a labouring woman to progress, so it is helpful to work both passively, and actively to relax any tension in the face and jaw. There is a long established association between the jaw and the pelvis and many birth and forward-thinking medical professionals agree that there is a direct relationship between having a relaxed state in the birthing woman’s mouth and jaw and the ability of the pelvis to relax and cervix, as well for the vagina and anus, to open to full capacity.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Techniques can further promote relaxation and should always be encouraged.
Acupressure and Reflexology points, contraindicated until 38 weeks gestation, can now be used, and taught to the pregnant woman which may assist in preparing the Pregnant woman’s uterus as well as softening & ripening her cervix. This may, in turn, help with the initiation of labour or to encourage a reinstatement of labour if things slow down. It is recommended that a Pregnant Woman see a Qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner for acupuncture to these points.
In conclusion, Pregnancy Massage cannot directly bring a woman into labour, however, it has many benefits which are helpful in both preparing a woman’s body and mind to relax into the birthing process, letting go of unwanted physical and emotional tension. As a Pregnancy Massage Therapist, I believe in giving adequate support and education to facilitate her experience of easing into a more conducive place to birth her baby.
About the Author:
Keturah Stoltenberg is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist since 2004, and has a special interest in Woman’s Health.
She has extensive Post-graduate training, skills and experience in Pregnancy, Birth and Postnatal Massage, and is passionate about Maternal Health, at every stage.
Keturah believes in Continuity of Care as a way of truly understanding and facilitating a woman’s needs.
She offers this with multidisciplinary skills that can support a nurture a woman from pre-pregnancy right through to birth and Postpartum.
Keturah is a Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula and well as a Baby Massage Instructor.
She is a mother of two teenage boys and her practice is based in the Inner West of Sydney.
You can find out more about Keturah’s work by visiting her website: