“Can pregnant women have massages?”

This is part 1 of 2 of a conversation with L, a woman in her mid-twenties working at a massage parlour. I have talked to her before, click here if you’ve missed the last conversation with her. Stay tuned for part 2 of the conversation (“Your breasts are almost non-existent”).

L loves to tell me about other foreigners she has met.

She says: “When I was working in Guangzhou there was a guy living close-by who would always say hello, hello when he saw us. We would then reply hi, how do you do. He’d then say I’m fine. My English isn’t very good, but I still remember these few sentences. I have learned a lot of English at school, but I hardly ever use it, so I have forgotten almost all of it. In Guangzhou I used to live in a neighborhood with many black people from Africa. The women used to carry stuff on their heads. They can carry really heavy stuff on their heads.”

L has grown up in Guangxi and has been living in Guangzhou before she came to Shenzhen. She has also told me about Zhuhai.

I ask her: “Which of the places you’ve been to do you like the most?”
She: “Zhuhai. It’s a laid-back city. It’s not as crowded as here. Guangzhou and Shenzhen are too expensive. How much do you guess does a glass of bubble milk tea in Zhuhai cost?”
I: “I don’t know.”
She: “6 Kuai. You can even get it for 4 Kuai. Do you know how much it would cost in Shenzhen?”
I: “30 Kuai?”
She: “Yes, something like that. Around 20 or 30 Kuai.”

I, switching the topic:
“Can pregnant women have massages?”
She, looking alarmed and stopping for a moment: “No. Are you pregnant?”
I: “No, I’m not. I’m just curious. Can’t they even get a foot massage?”
She: “No, any kind of massage is inadvisable for pregnant women. It has to do with the blood.”*
I: “I see.”

*Reading up on this topic I have discovered that pregnant women can actually have massages, but should only go to therapists who are specially trained in giving prenatal massages. Massages for pregnant women are different from those for non-pregnant ones.

Have you ever had a similar conversation? I’d love to hear your stories.

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6 thoughts on ““Can pregnant women have massages?”

  1. When I was pregnant, forty-some years ago, any kind of massage was unusual in the United States. I hear that prenatal massage is generally a good idea if the therapist knows how to do it. There’s some question about massages in the first trimester because of worry about miscarriage. Obviously, the woman may have to lie on her side, not on her stomach.


  2. When I was pregnant in Zhuhai, none of the massage people would even consider giving me a massage. Something about being terrified to send me into labor my massaging various pressure points. Anyway, at that time I did enjoy a lovely pre-natal massage in Hong Kong by someone trained to do those things (but for many, many, many more kuai!)


  3. Pingback: “Your breasts are almost non-existent” | China elevator stories

  4. When I was pregnant with my daughter in Beijing 2.5 years ago, the massage parlour below my apartment was willing to give me a back massage while I leaned over a chair. Yet, pregnant with my son this past year, I went to four different parlours and no one would touch me. I was more than 6 months along and assured them I didn’t want a foot or deep pressure massage (both being linked to early delivery). Still, people were too nervous. I think that I must have simply found an exception to the general rule during my first pregnancy, but those employees were no longer working at my local massage parlour!


    • A friend who’s working at a TCM therapist’s office in Switzerland mentioned that gynecological departments in TCM clinics might offer prenatal massages. They do offer prenatal massages at their clinic in Switzerland, so there must be some related knowledge. I think it might be worth a try to go to a TCM clinic in China and see if they do offer it (of course, in your case that advice is a few months late, but in case you’ll be pregnant and in need of a prenatal massage in China in the future).


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