Prenatal Massage Certification

Prenatal massage certification is a credential that massage therapists can earn after completing specific educational requirements and passing a certification examination. It represents voluntary completion of studies that are more advanced than the knowledge required for a massage therapy license. Massage therapists with prenatal massage certification have proven that they have expertise related to the use of massage therapy on pregnant clients.

Read our Q&A about prenatal massage therapist certification to get started.

What does a massage therapist with prenatal massage certification do?

A massage therapist with prenatal massage certification specializes in administering massage therapy to pregnant women. Some massage therapists with prenatal massage certification also may provide services during the labor and postpartum phases of pregnancy. A massage therapist with prenatal massage certification may offer infant massage, though infant massage is a separate specialty with its own certification process.

How does prenatal massage certification differ from a massage therapy certificate, massage licensure and massage therapy certification?

Each of these items can play an important role in the career of a massage therapist with prenatal massage certification. The difference between these related terms is:

  • A massage therapy certificate is awarded to a massage therapist to show completion of a specific program of study. It can be related to general massage therapy, prenatal massage therapy or another specialized type of massage therapy that was learned.
  • A massage therapy license is required to practice massage therapy in most states. It is illegal to administer massage therapy without a license in states where a massage therapy license is mandated. Since massage therapy is regulated at the state level, each state has its own requirements for licensure.
  • Massage therapy certification is a voluntary designation that a massage therapist can earn after licensure. It shows mastery of the general body of knowledge regarding massage therapy. Massage therapy certification is not required to perform massage therapy.
  • Prenatal massage certification is one of many specialized, voluntary credentials that a massage therapist can earn after acquiring a massage therapy license. While preferred by most pregnant clients, prenatal massage certification is not necessary to perform prenatal massage therapy. Prenatal massage certification can be earned before, after or instead of general massage therapy certification.

Why is prenatal massage certification important?

Prenatal massage certification gives massage therapists the extra training they need to cater their treatments to the unique circumstances of each pregnant client. With prenatal massage certification, massage therapists also gain expertise in treating women in side-lying positions. These are important modifications because they avoid putting pressure on a woman’s swollen abdomen. Though prenatal massage certification is not required, its accomplishment shows that a massage therapist has mastered alternative treatment methods for safe prenatal massage therapy.

With proper use, prenatal massage therapy has many benefits for pregnant clients. It can be used for the following purposes:

  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Relieve muscle aches, joint pain and headaches
  • Enhance labor experiences
  • Reduce swelling
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase circulation

How can a massage therapist earn prenatal massage certification?

Prenatal massage certification is awarded from a certifying organization. Requirements typically include completion of online or classroom continuing education courses on prenatal massage therapy. Courses usually average 24 hours of classroom or online learning. Some organizations also require that a massage therapist show proof of having performed a set number of prenatal massage therapy sessions before certification. Typically, a student also must pass an examination to receive prenatal massage certification.

What do you study to prepare for prenatal massage certification?

Some of the information related to prenatal massage certification is covered in the general coursework required for massage therapy licensure. However, courses taken in preparation for prenatal massage certification offer a more in-depth perspective on the unique needs of pregnant clients.

Students learn how pregnancy changes a woman’s body during each trimester and how those changes affect the way massage therapy should be done. This knowledge helps massage therapists deliver the best outcomes with consideration for the safety and comfort of pregnant clients. Typical curriculum for prenatal massage certification includes the study of these specialized subjects:

  • Research on prenatal massage therapy
  • Benefits of prenatal massage therapy
  • Differences between the trimesters of pregnancy
  • Emotional/psychological changes in pregnancy
  • Proper positioning of pregnant clients
  • Safety precautions for prenatal massage therapy
  • Contraindications for prenatal massage therapy

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