Ah, the wonderful feelings of pregnancy.
You love to feel the baby kicking and moving in your belly.
But what about the less delightful feelings?
Aches and pains, cramps, sciatica, and back pain can leave you feeling totally worn out.
Many women in need of some relief want to use massage chairs during pregnancy.
Some people caution against it, saying they’re not safe.
Who should you listen to? Read on to find out more.
Is it bad to use a massage chair while pregnant?
There’s no shortage of advice when it comes to using massage chairs during pregnancy.
Your mum, sister, or friend will have cautionary tales.
Some people say the vibrations will cause miscarriage or early labour. Others claim the electrical waves will affect the baby.
One BellyBelly fan says, “I used a massage chair at an electrical shop … A guy who works at the shop … said that pregnant women shouldn’t use the massage chairs as it can bring on labour … Later that day I went into labour”.
Stories like this are easy to find on the Internet.
Many people will tell you that massage chairs are not a good idea to use while pregnant.
But is this scientific advice or just an old wives’ tale?
Should you use massage chairs during pregnancy or not?
Can vibrations hurt a fetus?
There’s not a lot of research into the effects of vibrations during pregnancy.
Most of what we know is related to long term exposure to vibrations, similar to those produced by a jackhammer or other work related activities.
A study from nearly 20 years ago indicated vibrations from these sources could increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to the baby.
Because this study is outdated and there’s little new research into this area, health experts advise pregnant women to avoid long term use of whole body, low frequency vibration.
It’s important to note there are different types of vibration that a pregnant woman can be exposed to.
Some are fine and some are best to stay away from.
Massage chairs aren’t the only source of vibration.
Here are some others:
- Roller coasters
- Vibrators (sexual stimulators)
- Driving, or being a passenger in a car
Most people would agree there are some obvious ones to stay away from, such as roller coasters.
Others, such as being a passenger in a car, are generally seen as safe. However, it might be best to avoid being driven in a car over a rough road for many hours.
Sex, vibrators, and massage chairs are less obviously good or bad, and these are the things that tend to worry pregnant women.
In fact, the vibration from massage chairs is the same as your regular walking movements. These mild vibrations aren’t likely to harm your baby.
Can vibration cause miscarriage?
There are many benefits to using massage chairs during pregnancy.
- Lowering of stress
- Reduced pain
Alan Rooney, former midwife, says, “They will not bring on labour. They are safe to use when pregnant”.
This is true for the majority of pregnant women.
However, there are some instances where you might need to be careful:
- During the first trimester, when miscarriage risk is highest
- If you’ve experienced miscarriage previously
- If you’ve experienced pre term labour
- If you’re having a high-risk pregnancy
- If the vibrations make you cramp.
Massage chairs are safe for most pregnant women to use, but if you fit into any of the above categories, it’s best to avoid them or speak with your doctor first.
Which areas should not be massaged during pregnancy?
If you’re a pregnant woman, a massage chair isn’t your only option for receiving a massage.
You could try massage therapy from a professional.
Some massage therapists specialise in pregnancy massage, and they know what’s good or bad for the pregnant body and for the baby. They will avoid ‘trigger points’ that can lead to premature labour.
Massage therapist and midwife, Heather Hanning, says:
“Places to avoid while getting a pregnancy massage are pressure points related to the pelvis. Also, those on the hands, wrists, and ankles are to be avoided”.
Manufacturers of massage chairs often warn pregnant women not to use massage chairs during pregnancy because they might trigger these pressure points.
Many massage chairs also include heating pads, which can cause pregnant women to overheat.
Pedicure massage chairs during pregnancy
If you plan to get a pedicure during pregnancy, you might want to avoid the foot massage.
Similarly, some things to be careful of, or to avoid, when using massage chairs are:
- Heating pads
- Anything that triggers the pressure points
- Spending a long time in the chair.
It’s generally recommended that you spend a maximum of 20 minutes in a massage chair.
Most experts also suggest avoiding them during the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is highest.
Using vibrating massager during pregnancy
Massage is a valuable tool for pregnant women.
Evidence suggests it can even help treat depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
There’s no doubt massage feels wonderful and, during pregnancy, our bodies can sometimes use a little more help to feel comfortable.
Lower back pain can be especially difficult. Don’t rule out massage during this time.
Many women turn to massage chairs to help with this.
There’s no reason to think you can’t use a massage chair as long as:
- Your pregnancy is low-risk
- You’re past the first trimester
- You don’t have a history of miscarriage
- Your massage chair doesn’t trigger pressure points
- You don’t use a heating pad
- You don’t stay on it for longer than 20 minutes.
If you pay attention to this checklist, there should be no reason to avoid massage chairs during pregnancy.
Just to be absolutely sure, however, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor.
Massage chairs for pregnancy
It’s best to:
- Keep vibration to a minimum
- Avoid pressure points
Before buying your own massage chair, do some research on what to avoid if you plan to use it during pregnancy.
If you have no health conditions, you’ve done your research, and your health practitioner gives you the go-ahead, then go ahead and enjoy your massage chair.
You don’t have to avoid massage chairs during pregnancy as long as you’re careful with them.
They’re generally safe during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters, as long as you’re not at risk of premature labour.
Can I use a neck massager while pregnant?
You should apply the same concepts to other types of massagers during pregnancy:
- Avoid pressure points
- Avoid the heating element, as this can raise your body temperature
- Avoid using them during the first trimester
- Avoid them if you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.
If you’re having a high-risk pregnancy or aren’t sure about what to avoid, it’s best to see an experienced pregnancy massage therapist.
A good massage therapist will know what to do, what to avoid, and how to relieve any pain or discomfort you’re feeling.
How can I sit comfortably at my desk while pregnant?
If you’ve decided you don’t want to risk using massage chairs during pregnancy, try these alternatives:
- Sit on a cushion
- Buy a wobble cushion
- Use a body pillow
- Try acupuncture
- Have chiropractic care.
It’s more difficult for a pregnant woman to feel comfortable, but there are ways to help.
Massage chairs can help if you follow the guidelines and feel it’s the right choice for you.
They can be a wonderful solution for that pregnancy back pain.
If you don’t feel comfortable with using a massage chair, try the other alternatives.
Massage therapy is safe during pregnancy and is a wonderful and safe alternative.