Massage therapy and acupressure--manipulating the muscles and pressure points throughout the body--are two alternative therapies that can help alleviate muscle and nerve pain during pregnancy, and can be very relaxing. Certain pressure points, however, should be avoided during pregnancy to reduce the risk of harm to the unborn baby or provoke contractions before an expectant mom's due date.
Massaging the Ankles
Pressure points near the ankle are contraindicated during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, because, when manipulated, they can cause the pelvic muscles and uterus to contract. Contractions well before a woman's due date can lead to preterm labor, which is not safe for the child.
The Acupuncture Referral Service describes the prohibited spot on the anke as the Sanyinjiao or Sp6, which is located three fingers' width above the inner ankle bone, called the medial malleolus. This spot to avoid is not to be confused with another pressure point in the ankle, called the Zhubin, or K9 point. The Zhubin is also located above the medial malleolus, but is further up, closer to the calf muscle. The K9 point is safe to use during pregnancy, and can realign the body's energy, or qi, to ease anxiety and high blood pressure.
There are two point on the hands that should not be touched during a massage or acupressure session when a woman is pregnant. The first point is called the Hegu, Union Valley or LI4 and is the fleshy spot between a person's thumb and forefinger. According to licensed acupuncturist Diane Joswick, the Hegu point could cause contractions in a pregnant woman if massaged or manipulated. The other point to avoid in the hand is in the wrist. The American Pregnancy Association explains that manipulating pressure points in the wrist may cause uterine contractions that are unsafe in early stages of pregnancy.
The wrist point may be close to a point in the crease of the wrist called Mind's Door or Spirit's Gate, which can be massaged during pregnancy to relieve insomnia and morning sickness and to regular heart rhythms, as described by the Institute of Integrative Healthcare Studies. Expectant mothers should be sure that their practitioner is experienced in pregnancy massage or performing acupressure or acupuncture on pregnant women to avoid applying pressure to the wrong wrist point.
Massaging the Lower Trunk
Pressure points on the lower trunk, including the sacrum, lower back and lower abdomen, should not be used during prenatal acupuncture sessions, explains the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies. The reason for steering clear of these points is to prevent possible injury to the fetus if the needling goes too deep into the tissues.