While there have not been very many studys done on Pregnancy Massage Therapy, a small handful of potential benefits have been identified for this type of massage. One study held at the University of Miami School of Medicine does suggest that prenatal and pregnancy massage therapy might have multiple positive effects which include but are not limited to; lower anxiety levels, decrease in back and leg pain, lower levels of the stress hormone Norepinephrine and it could even improve sleep.
There was another study done of prenatal massage therapy in depressed women. The researchers found that it increased the levels of the "feel-good" hormones Serotonin and dopamine. It also decreased levels of Cortisol during pregnancy, which is an indicator of stress. Basically prenatal massage therapy had an overall improvement in the women's moods during pregnancy.
Prenatal and pregnancy massage therapists will change the massage techniques used to work with the changes the woman's body goes through during pregnancy. Because of blood flow changes in the women's body the pregnant lady is at a higher risk of blood clots especially in the lower legs, usually when this does happen it occurs in the inner thighs and calves.
To avoid any contradiction the prenatal or pregnancy massage, therapist will typically avoid using deep pressure massage in these areas, because using the deeper massage pressures can potentially dislodge these blood clots. Instead the therapist should use light, slow strokes moving towards the heart. Deep tissue massage, deep acupressure, shiatsu, cross- fiber friction and percussive tapping massage techniques should all be avoided on the legs. If abdomenal massage is done at all it should be done with a very light pressure. Some massage therapists will not do the abdomen at all.