When you’re pregnant, having aches and pains is common, and these aches and pains can get worse as your pregnancy progresses. A massage sounds like a nice way to relax, and massage chairs are popular around the world for their ability to soothe aches and pains while allowing you to relax. But can a massage chair induce labor?
It’s important to know whether or not a massage chair can induce labor before you use one. Everyone is different, so you should consult your primary care physician before you try one for yourself. However, we’ll uncover whether a massage chair can induce labor or not below.
Defining a Massage Chair
A massage chair uses pressing, patting, rolling, rotating, and sweeping movements to help release tension in your muscles and relax various parts of your body. Some chairs have kneading components or use gliding strokes to encourage better circulation and release stress. Every massage chair has three main components included in them, and we listed them below.
- Computer – Massage chairs have computers built-in that help to adjust the chair to your width and height automatically. If the chair has heating elements, the computer will control them too.
- Motor – The motor is the central focus of the massage chair. It powers the rollers and nodes to massage your body, and the motor also helps you adjust the chair to different positions.
- Rollers and Nodes – The rollers and nodes on the chair work to provide massaging motions at certain points on your body. They target specific areas to help promote relaxation, and you can get them in different shapes and sizes. You can adjust the rollers and nodes, depending on your needs.
The Benefits of a Massage While Pregnant
There are dozens of studies that showcase the benefits of regular massage for pregnant women. According to the Mayo Clinic, massage is an effective way to help get rid of back pain or decrease the severity of the pain you feel. We outlined a few other key benefits below.
- Coping with pain related to chronic conditions like fibromyalgia
- Decreasing depression symptoms
- Helping ease back pain
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Reducing insomnia symptoms
- Reliving headaches and migraines
Studies showed that the weight the mother carries when she’s pregnant can reduce her circulation and increase the pressure on her blood vessels, and this results in higher blood pressure and joint swelling. Massage chairs can stimulate the body to reduce the fluid and improve the circulation levels to safely and effectively reduce the swelling and lower the blood pressure.
Another problem common with pregnant women is sciatic nerve pain, and this results when the pressure gets applied to their lower back on the sciatic nerve to cause leg weakness, swelling, and pain. One study showed that periodic massage could help treat low back pain and sciatica, and this is healthier for the mother and baby.
Massage chairs can also boost your mood by promoting the release of endorphins. A study even showed that massage is effective during labor for reducing stress and boosting your mood to help encourage shorter labor. You only need 10 to 15 minutes every few days to feel the positive effects.
Five Common Misconceptions Involving Pregnancy and Massage Chairs
There are several misconceptions floating around involving massage chair use by pregnant women. However, we found that there was very little actual studies or evidence to support these claims. Also, we found no direct evidence to suggest that massage chairs induce labor.
Claim One: The Massage Chair’s Vibrations Can Harm the Baby
Many expectant mothers worry at the vibrations of the massage chair can potentially harm their unborn child or stunt their growth. However, massage chair vibrations are no more jarring on your baby than going on a brisk walk. Unless your doctor specifically orders bed rest, you should be fine.
Claim Two: Using a Massage Chair of any Type can Cause a Miscarriage
A second big concern is that using a massage chair can cause a miscarriage. However, there is no hard evidence to suggest that sitting in a massage chair can cause a spontaneous miscarriage. You do want to be careful with the chair’s positioning, though, so it’s not uncomfortable.
Claim Three: The Risk Goes up the Further Along You Are
Did you know that 80% of all miscarriages occur between weeks 0 to 13, or in the first trimester? The fact is, your risk drops as you get further in your pregnancy. If anything, avoid a massage chair for the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy before using it if you feel like it would help you. There are no studies supporting that using a massage chair induces early labor or increases your risk of miscarrying.
Claim Four: The Chair’s Heating Elements are Dangerous
Some people believe that using the heating nodules on massage chairs can lead to Hyperthemia, and this condition can cause congenital disabilities in babies. Medical professionals do recommend pregnant women avoid saunas or hot baths for the first trimester. However, the heating elements in the massage chair pose very little risk of pushing you to this point because they focus on your calves and lower back while producing lower heat levels that aren’t strong enough to raise your body temperature.
Claim Five: The Electromagnetic Field on the Chair Poses a Threat to the Baby
Electronic devices and appliances always produce a magnetic field when you use them, and some holistic practitioners use magnetic field therapy to help their patients. Some massage chairs have magnetic field therapy built into the chair itself, but this magnetic field is too weak to damage your baby. Additionally, there are layers of tissue, muscle, and fat surrounding your baby to stop the magnetic field.
Who Should Take Precautions
Even though using a massage chair during your pregnancy is generally considered safe, there are some instances where you should take precautions. The three big categories are below.
- High-Risk Pregnancy – If you have a very high-risk pregnancy, it is usually a good idea to avoid massage chairs. You can ask your doctor if they’d recommend it if you really want to try it, but we generally advise against it.
- Preeclampsia – Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that usually shows up around week 20. You can experience extremely high blood pressure readings, protein in your urine, and it can damage your liver or renal system if you don’t treat it.
- Severe Headaches – For some people, massage and massage chairs can induce severe headaches. Although the exact cause isn’t known, it’s best not to get in a massage chair if it triggers headaches for you.
Although massage chairs are generally safe to use if you’re pregnant, you should avoid them during the first trimester to err on the side of caution. When you get into your massage chair, only spend 15 to 20 minutes at the most per session on a regular schedule. If you notice that you have a lot of swelling that seems to get worse, a severe headache, or you feel sick, stop using the chair.
There is no concrete evidence supporting the idea that massage chairs can induce labor. Always talk to your doctor before you add or remove anything from your normal routine, and this includes massage chairs. They can tell you whether or not they think it’s safe for you to use one based on your medical history.