It’s no secret that pregnancy can be uncomfortable at times – and not just on the day the baby is born. All the months leading up to birth can be associated with pain, stitches, and stitches.
If you’re thinking about giving yourself a well-deserved rest with a pedicure or massage, you may be wondering whether an electric massage chair (the type you sit on to do a pedicure) is safe during pregnancy.
Just like with so many other things about pregnancy, there is no definitive answer – but many experts will tell you that these massage chairs are safe as long as you use them properly.
Here’s what you need to know about why massage chair use is sometimes controversial during pregnancy, what to consider if you choose to use them, and what else you can do to get relief during pregnancy.
An electric massage chair is just a chair that you sit in all the time during pregnancy, so you might be wondering what’s the big deal. Well, there are three main concerns about using an electric massage chair while pregnant:
- The vibration could harm your baby.
- The acupressure pressure points can trigger early labor.
- If the chair has a heating function, you could become overheated, which could harm your baby.
Is there any justification for these concerns? In short, not really.
“Although it has been claimed that a massage chair can lead to miscarriage or premature labor, there is no evidence to support this,” says Dr. Romy Ghosh, gynecologist at Austin Regional Clinic. “Massage chairs that are used as intended are generally safe during pregnancy.”
Let’s take a closer look at each potential problem:
- Vibration. The vibrations you receive from a massage chair are generally not strong enough to cause harm. And even if you have used the highest setting, there is no harm to your stomach as you are in a sitting position.
- Acupressure. Likewise, the pressure exerted in these stools is not intense enough to induce labor. In fact, acupressure work points require constant pressure, not what you would get from a massage chair.
- Heat. Although the heat from a massage chair will likely be pretty mild, it is always a good idea to watch out for overheating during pregnancy. It is dangerous to raise your body temperature too much during pregnancy. Because of this, things like hot tubs, saunas, and hot yoga are not recommended.
Overall, appropriate use of a massage chair does not pose a great deal of risk to a pregnant person.
Stick to low massage settings and mild heat, especially in the lower back. For example, pregnant women are allowed to use heating pads in remote areas. If you feel like you are getting too warm or passed out, stop using the chair and keep hydrating it.
If you have any concerns about using an electric massage chair during your pregnancy, you can always skip it. Some people find it particularly uncomfortable during the first trimester and the last 4 weeks of pregnancy.
In addition, you can avoid the massage chair during pregnancy for other reasons such as:
- Morning sickness. If you have severe morning sickness, you may feel sick from all the jostling.
- Sciatica. If you have sciatica, you may think getting a massage is a good idea. But it could actually cause more pain by irritating already sensitive or overworked nerves and muscles.
- Back pain. The same principle applies to back pain. During pregnancy, back pain can be tricky and it can irritate the area even more.
If you are in severe pain, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor or midwife about why you would want to use a massage chair.
“The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about your symptoms,” adds Ghosh. “For example, back pain can be a sign of premature labor.”
You see, we understand: everything hurts. Your sciatica makes it difficult for you to walk, your pubic dysplasia causes a lightning-fast step, and it feels like your back is trapped in a permanent vise.
Of course you want a massage – anyone would!
But while a massage chair might be a solution for you, there are other pregnancy-safe ways to find relief. And again, you should discuss any specific ailments you have with a doctor just to be on the safe side.
Ghosh says regular physical activity like walking or swimming can help relieve back pain and strengthen your back, thereby preventing other aches and pains.
You may also want to try prenatal yoga or Pilates (just make sure you get your thumbs up from your doctor first).
Calm and ice
Ice packs and dormant tense muscles can provide short- and long-term relief.
Putting your feet up is not just an expression. Elevating your feet can reduce swelling and discomfort in your lower extremities.
You may find yourself feeling uncomfortable a lot, but gentle stretches, slow walking, and even just getting up from your desk or couch to move about once an hour can help alleviate pregnancy symptoms.
“Also, try adding prenatal stretches, such as:
Pregnancy can add new pain to your life or highlight pre-existing problems.
Many physical therapists are trained and some even specialize in working with pregnant people so you may be able to safely realign, readjust, and recover with the help of a professional.
Ghosh says a physical therapist referral can help if home-based intervention hasn’t improved your symptoms.
Additionally, you can also talk to your doctor about the appropriate use of over-the-counter pain relievers during pregnancy, for those days when home therapies just aren’t enough. Acetaminophen is generally considered safe to use while ibuprofen should be avoided.
You can also incorporate acupuncture or chiropractic care into your routine, but talk to your doctor or obstetrician first. Some gynecologists recommend these practices while others prefer that you avoid them.
If you’re not comfortable trying a massage chair or don’t have access to one, you may be wondering if you can get a traditional massage instead.
Again, the answer is basically the same: it’s probably safe, but you should consult your doctor or obstetrician.
“Massage can help relieve stress and tension, improve blood circulation, and improve sleep, which is good for both mother and baby,” says Ghosh. “Prenatal massages are generally safe after the first trimester, but talk to your doctor first and let your massage therapist know you are pregnant.”
When getting a massage, make sure it is performed by a licensed massage therapist who is familiar with treating pregnant women.
You may also need a medical clearance certificate from a doctor stating that you can get a massage. The therapist will most likely lay you on your side instead of on your stomach for the massage, even if you are in your first trimester.
You may also want to consider getting your partner over for a massage. According to Ghosh, a side-to-side massage can:
- Relieve back pain
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
And research confirms it. For example, a small 2019 study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork found that 10-minute, twice-weekly stool massages between partners help reduce anxiety, mood, and pain levels in pregnant people.
In this case, the massage chair used is the way you sit to get a massage (you might have seen this at the mall) so they don’t raise any of the concerns that an electric massage chair makes. If you have or have access to such a massage chair at home, speak to your doctor to see if using it is a good way to relax and relieve your discomfort.
No one knows for sure that electric massage chairs are safe to use during pregnancy, but neither is there any evidence that they are not.
You can keep all of the heat and massage settings low just to be sure – but overall, a massage chair is unlikely unless you have a high-risk or complicated pregnancy.
If you need the kind of relief that comes from a massage chair but can’t get one, talk to a doctor about getting regular massage with a licensed therapist.
You can also discuss other ways to treat your pregnancy pain, such as: B. Soaking in a tub, using physical therapy, home remedies, and OTC pregnancy-safe pain relievers.