Stress, fatigue, and soreness are common during pregnancy. So it’s unsurprising that so many women turn to massage for relief. Unfortunately, only a few have the time or spare cash for a daily trip to the spa. This is where electric massagers come in.
Happily, if used correctly, it’s OK to use an electric massager while pregnant. But there are areas to avoid and conditions that can make it unsafe. Here is everything you need to know to find out whether investing in an electric massager is right for you.
Is It Safe to Use an Electric Massager While Pregnant?
Using an electric massager during the second and third trimesters of a low-risk pregnancy is considered safe. The stress-busting effects can even be beneficial.
Studies have shown that massage in pregnancy can:
- Reduce depression and anxiety.
- Lower the risk of preterm birth.
- Increase immune response.
- Boost dopamine and serotonin levels.
- Reduce back and leg pain.
- It can even shorten labor by up to 3 hours!
However, electric massage is not risk-free. So, before you get started, here’s how to do it safely and when you should avoid it altogether.
6 Tips for Using Electric Massagers Safely During Pregnancy
- Focus on the Shoulders, Neck, Upper Back, and Arms
Massaging these areas is considered safe and will relieve the pain related to supporting your bump. You should never directly massage your spine and avoid going lower than your shoulder blades.
- Never Use a Massage Gun on Your Belly or Lower Back
It’s not safe to use a massage gun on your bump or lower back, as the vibrations are too powerful. For lower back issues, use a massage chair, cushion, or pad. These provide less intense vibrations than a gun and won’t harm your baby.
- Don’t Use It on Your Hips or Legs
During pregnancy, you are at greater risk of developing blood clots in your legs. Using an electric massager risks dislodging a clot, which could make its way to your lungs or heart.
- Lower the Intensity
Start on the lowest setting available and don’t go above medium intensity.
- Use for Short Durations
When using a gun, spend between 1 and 2 minutes on each area of your body. Any longer could cause bruising or irritation. If you’re using a chair, resist the urge to nap. Twenty minutes should be your max.
- Avoid Pressure Points
Some believe that applying pressure to points on the wrists, ankles, or between the fingers can cause contractions. It’s extremely unlikely that you could start labor with a massage gun, but most manufacturers would like you to avoid trying!
When to Avoid Electric Massagers in Pregnancy
In the following cases, using an electric massager is not safe or worth the risk.
- During the First Trimester
Most manufacturers recommend avoiding their products during the first trimester. This is due to a lack of testing on the risk of miscarriage rather than any evidence. However, it’s also likely to worsen your morning sickness.
- High-Risk Pregnancy
If your pregnancy is high-risk, consult your doctor before trying massage.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Using a massager on an area with clots could release the clot and trigger a life-threatening embolism.
Electric massage isn’t considered safe if you have pre-eclampsia. Again, this is mostly due to the lack of testing.
- Placenta Previa, Accreta, or Abruption
Due to the risk of bleeding, you should avoid electric massagers if you have any issues with your placenta.
- Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes doesn’t rule out massage, but you should consult your doctor and check your blood sugar beforehand.
The Best Types of Electric Massagers to Use While Pregnant
If your doctor has given you the green light, the next step is choosing your device. It can be overwhelming when there are so many on the market. So, here are the top 4 choices for use during pregnancy:
- Back and neck massagers – These work wonders to soothe tight shoulders caused by carrying your bump. They are also completely safe, as they work nowhere near your belly or legs.
- Massage chairs – Chairs will give you a full back massage without the worry of too many vibrations traveling to your bump.
- Foot massagers – These are a great way to destress and carry no risk for your baby.
- Massage guns – These are incredibly powerful and, therefore, effective. However, you will need to take more care with where and how you use them. To avoid harm, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Features to Look Out For
The best device for use during pregnancy will have the following features:
- An adjustable intensity – You should use a low or medium setting while pregnant.
- Variable heat settings – Overheating is more likely and potentially dangerous during pregnancy. To avoid this, make sure you can adjust your device to the lowest heat setting.
- Approval for use during pregnancy – Some manufacturers recommend their products to pregnant women and provide guides on how to use them safely.
Alternatives to Electric Massagers During Pregnancy
If you’d like the benefits of massage but feel nervous about using an electric device, don’t use one. The worry will undo all your hard stress-relieving efforts, and there are lots of alternatives you can try:
- Prenatal Massage
Visit a professional therapist who specializes in prenatal massage. They will be able to treat you safely and in the correct positions.
- Foam Rollers
Foam rollers are an excellent tool for self-massage. However, finding your balance can take a little practice, so ask a partner for help.
- Massage Balls
Rolling these spiky or bumpy balls can soothe tired feet risk-free.
- Prenatal Yoga or Pilates
Yoga and pilates designed for pregnancy will improve your posture and stretch out sore muscles.
- Train Your Partner in Pregnancy-Safe Massage
Ask your partner to brush up on safe techniques for a cheap, at-home alternative to a therapist. They may not be a professional, but this study showed that a 10-minute massage from your partner just twice a week can improve pain, anxiety, and mood.
If massage makes you feel good and relieves stress, then you should absolutely use it during pregnancy. Just make sure you consult your health provider first and stay away from your bump, legs, and lower back.