Seattle Prenatal & Postnatal Massage

Safely relieve pain and reconnect with your changing body during a unique and personal time. 

Elizabeth Panelo
Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist

I dream of the day that pregnancy massage is part of prenatal care. Prenatal massage isn't just pampering mothers, the benefits are many: Lowering pain in your changing body improves quality of life, easing mental and physical stress aids in sleep, digestion, and overall health.

Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy Massage is an opportunity for women to connect with their bodies in a way that they never have before. 50% of maternity massage clients have never experienced medical massage therapy, but have, perhaps, never experienced sustained chronic myofascial pain before either.  The changes that occur throughout the prenatal process are fast happening, monumental, and sometimes achy. 

Prenatal massage gives the expecting mother an opportunity for the best possible birthing outcomes, physical comfort through the pregnancy and positive body image postpartum. 

In her book, "Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy," Carol Osborne-Sheets explains the recent history of pregnancy massage:

"In 1979, many in my circle of women friends were pregnant, including me, and I began seeing my first pregnant clients who were elated, yet uncomfortable.  Although I'd been practicing bodywork for five years, I was unfamiliar with childbearing so I began some initial research.  I quickly confirmed that, with little documented rationale, Swedish massage was contraindicated during pregnancy. - More experienced body workers or perinatal specialists, aside from midwives who instinctively touched their laboring women, were unable to provide meaningful guidance.  However, my friends', my clients', and my own tired, tight lower back and swollen ankles were delivering a different most compelling message: pregnant bodies need the structural, physiological and emotional care of knowledgeable touch." 

Experience and Philosophies

With over a decade of Seattle pregnancy massage experience, as well as becoming a mother myself, I have seen that every pregnancy is different, so each massage treatment that I give is different. Some mothers experience low back pain, others swelling in the extremities, sometimes both, and the mother's needs change from session to session. Using a variety of techniques I am able to specialize each visit to your particular needs of the moment. My training was extensive: from Brian Utting School of Massage, one of the top massage schools of its time, award winning medical clinic Dreamclinic Massage, and spa treatments with Mama Mio.

Through my training I have learned the optimal positioning for a mother's comfort during her pregnancy massage.  I use The Body Cushion system, pillows and bolsters to create a nest for the mother, lying on her side or  positioned in a semi-reclining position..  

I do not use the "table with a hole" approach for a couple of different reasons. First, it places an unnecessary compression on the uterus. Second, prone positioning puts the uterine ligaments in a strained state which also places the low back under strain counteracting the purpose of our visit. Lastly, we exist in a culture that tends to distance women from their bodies. The time between pregnancy and labor is one of ultimate opportunity for integration. Prone positioning is psychologically another way to distance a mother from the experience of her changing physiology.  If you are interested in a Seattle Prenatal Massage but have more questions, please contact me.

What To Expect 

Each pregnancy massage is as individual as your child will be. I have found that the best results for prevention of discomfort have been with mothers who are able to come in for massage therapy every two weeks throughout their second and third trimester, with weekly visits leading up to the labor date. That being said, whatever you can do to care for yourself physically and emotionally during this time will help create a solid foundation of self care as you move into motherhood.

After your baby is born, it is generally safe to receive a massage 6 weeks postpartum, or when approved by your Doctor. Depending on whether you are healing from surgery or nursing will determine the positioning and bolstering needed for your ultimate comfort. Even if mothers have been consistent with their prenatal massage, most hardly come in for postnatal care. This is when the added challenges of sleep deprivation, nursing, carrying or baby wearing while healing from labor, start to stress the body in new ways. This is why I accomodate mothers as much as possible. You are allowed to bring your baby with you to your massage! Some babies sleep the entire time in their carriers, while others need to be held while their mother lays on her side for her massage.

At the close of each session I will offer home care advice which may include, stretches, hydrotherapy, postural techniques or referrals to other professionals for complimentary modalities. This will empower you to address your own aches and pains in a proactive manner and train your body to dispel discomfort through consistent reinforcement.

Tricks and Techniques that may be used during your session include:

  • Thai Massage for the neck and shoulders to increase range of motion and alleviate upper back discomfort.
  • Myofascial Release particularly for the ribs and growing abdomen but also for the wrists and forearms to decrease the natural swelling process.
  • Neurofascial Release for the sciatic nerve which is often the culprit in hip aches and spasms of the low back during pregnancy.
  • Sidelying and Semi-Reclining positions are used in each session past the first trimester.  Some mothers enjoy the comforts of the sidelying position so much that they request it even after labor.


I would like for you to hear this message, if you hear nothing else: You come first. You cannot give what you do not have. Whatever you can do to take care of yourself during this time will benefit your prenatal experience and family tenfold.