Pregnancy (or prenatal) massage is a field of massage that most people have never heard of, and in fact most people think that one shouldn't receive a massage during pregnancy, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Massage is recommended at all stages of pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal. Massage during pregnancy can help the expectant mother to deal with many of the stresses associated with massage, both physical and emotional. This in turn leads to a happier pregnancy, and a healthier baby.
Postnatal massage, i.e. massage after pregnancy is also very important. Most mothers suffer with very tight back muscles after giving birth. Both natural birth and by C-section. Massage after giving birth will help with reducing pain, coping with the new stresses of motherhood, restoring muscle tone and skin tone, as well as with helping cope with postnatal depression. Most new mothers also struggle with bad neck pain, so massage is really helpful for that.
As all mothers know, pregnancy can be uncomfortable and painful, long before the birthing experience. Upper and lower back pain are almost a guarantee during pregnancy. This is both because of the extra load on the back, but also because of hormonal changes. During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin is released by the mother's body. This hormone causes the tendons and ligaments to relax, thus putting extra load on the muscles to maintain posture and biomechanics. What this means, is that the expecting mother is going to have sore muscles.
During the first 20 to 21 weeks of pregnancy, massage can be performed almost as normal, i.e. on a normal massage bed, in the normal positions, lying face down and face up. After 22 weeks, adjustments need to be made. The expecting mother needs to be massaged either in a relaxed seated position or in a side lying position. There are therapist who make use of a massage bed with hole in it to accommodate the mother's expending stomach, but in fact, this puts extra strain on the back, and is not advisable at all.
Sure, there are some practical difficulties associated with massaging pregnant women, and they can be overcome.