Online Course & Online Test

The online test for this course contains  60  multiple choice questions.

Massage Therapy CEs | Prenatal/Doula/Infant Courses

Prenatal Massage Fundamentals (Step One)

Massage Therapy continuing education CEs earned: 12. The average massage therapist should expect to devote one clock hour for every CE credit earned, based on NCBTMB calculations. These are online, home study CEs. They are not "live" hours. We do not offer live seminars at this time.

Course classification: Cognitive (course materials consist of concepts related to massage therapy but do not teach a specific hands-on modality). This course is the first half of our prenatal massage training. It will teach you what you need to know before you have a pregnant client on your table. Step Two will teach you the techniques that you will perform during a prenatal massage. (Steps one and two were originally one single course, but to accomodate states who do not accept kinesthetic techniques online for CEs, we split the cognitive content into step one and the kinesthetic content into step two. Therefore, you will not learn any hands on techniques in this portion of the course. They will be taught in the step two portion.)

Course format: In order to adhere to board standards of principles in adult education, we try to provide information to suit many learning styles. Some people want to read and reflect, some learn better with audio and visual. For this reason, you will see our written information, often followed by links or resources to this same information in a video format. Our courses consist of our written words, videos that we produced, videos from outside sources, and attached files of written word from outside sources. We hope that no matter what type of learner you are, you will find the information in a format that fits your needs.

Approved by:  Institute of Somatic Therapy (Judith Koch) is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states. Some states limit how many hours can be done online or by home study. Please refer to our State Guidelines section for specific information about your state. Laws can and do change, and your state will hold you responsible for knowing the laws that apply to you. 

Attention Florida Massage Therapists: This course is approved by Florida as an approved distance learning course for required hours of "relevant to massage therapy" category hours for the 8/31/2023 renewal cycle. (Pre-COVID, hours in this category had to be "live", but as a COVID accomodation are also being accepted during this renewal as "anytime" hours. This course will show in CE Broker as "anytime" or "distanct learning" hours in the "relevant to..." category.)   Course # 20-795810

Tuition: US $129   NOTE: Package Special Prices: Sign up on this page if you want to take ONLY Step One. For Steps one and two together for a $25 discount, use this link instead.  If you are interested in taking several courses at a discounted tuition, you can Create Your Own Customized Discount Package. Receive a discount of 8%-15% (depending on tuition value) when you enroll in any three or more of our courses at the same time.) Please note that our package specials are non-changeable/non-refundable.

Testing: You complete your test online, and immediately upon passing, print your certificate. The date you take the online test will be the date on your CE certificate.

To earn the title of Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist, do not enroll on this page. Instead, enroll on the page for the certification package. You can enroll in each step individually and still become certified, however there are several benefits to enrolling in both courses together as a package. You will save $25 with our package special, you will qualify to certify online instead of by mail (saving time and having a permanent accessible record online of your certification), and save a manual processing fee (since online processing is not available if not enrolled in the certification package).

CE Broker Reporting:  Institute of Somatic Therapy will automatically report your hours to CE Broker in applicable states ONLY IF you have provided your license number in your online account with us. You can verify your license information by logging on to our website, and reviewing your account information. If your license is not shown there, please select “edit” to include it. We generally report to CE Broker 2-3 times per week. Once the course shows in your online account with them, you will have an opportunity to rate it. If you were happy with the course, would you be so kind as to take a few minutes to share that with others? If you were not happy, please share specific ways in which you feel that we can try to improve. Thank you. 

Instructor: Judith Koch Stapleton

Course Description: The Fundamentals of Pregnancy Massage is the first course in the prenatal massage certification and doula certification series, and is a pre-requisite to taking the prenatal or doula certification courses. It lays the groundwork by teaching you the cognitive, conceptual aspects of prenatal massage so that you can:

  • Explain how prenatal massage benefits the mother physically and emotionally
  • List and describe pregnancy related complications and their symptoms that would contraindicate massage therapy
  • Describe the physiological changes that take place in each system of a woman’s body during pregnancy, and how each of those changes dictate modifications in a standard massage routine
  • Successfully market and sell your prenatal and delivery services
  • Prepare suitable forms to use for release of liability and record-keeping

This course does NOT teach prenatal massage techniques. You will learn that in Step Two. Upon completion of this course, you have the option of taking the next course in the pregnancy massage series, to earn the title of Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist. From there, you also have the option of taking the third course in the series, to earn the title of Certified Massage Doula.

Table of Contents for Step One:

Benefits of Prenatal Massage            
Research on Prenatal Massage        
Understanding the Trimesters of Pregnancy  
Physiological Changes in Pregnancy    
    Reproductive System      
    Cardiovascular System 
    Respiratory System   
    Digestive System      
    Renal System             
    Integumentary System/Skeletal System    
    Endocrine System                
Emotional and Psychological Changes in Pregnancy           
Contraindications for Prenatal Massage          
    Diagnosis as High Risk Pregnancy       
    Pre-term Labor                   
Gestational Diabetes            
Deep Vein Thrombosis    
Varicose Veins                    
Acupuncture/Acupressure Points        
Reflexology in Pregnancy               
Aromatherapy in Pregnancy           
Exercise in Pregnancy                 
Marketing Your Services        
Closing the Sale                
Recommended Reading      

Student Comments:

"Thank you so much. I did not expect to enjoy these courses (prenatal steps one and two) as much as I have. I just purchased the doula class and I'm sure I'll be taking the infant massage course, as well. Thank you so much for helping me grow my business and become more passionate about my craft." Whitney Brown, Bremen, Kentucky

"Thanks for offering this course. I had prenatal training in 2007, and wanted to take this as a re-fresher. I have been providing prenatal massages and I very much appreciate your rational approach to everything, without all of the fear-based info that I received in 2007. It's a very good course." Jacki Sellers, CMT, NCTMB, CMLDT, Aliso Viejo, CA

"I have been a holistic therapist for the last 27 years and have invested a lot of money in furthering my education. Some courses were worth it...many others weren't. I love the courses you offer not only because there is so much to choose from but also because all is actually applicable! So many times I have taken courses and half of what was being taught had absolutely no relevance. Your courses are of high quality and they are relevant - that's the most important aspect for me. I know I'll be back for more :)
Cheers", Gabriela Eikeland    Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada
Courses Gabriela has taken: Manual Lymph Massage, Prenatal Fundamentals, Prenatal Techniques, Spa Fundamentals, Communicable Diseases

"Thank you for all of your help with this course. It's an awesome course! I've taken a few other Prenatal massage courses and found yours the most comprehensive. Thanks again." Patti Nebel, Wenonah, NJ

"Thank you for developing such a wonderful course! My massage office is located within a birth center & I have been giving pre & post natal massage for 6 years now, I LOVE it!! I have read several books and watched a few DVDs on the subject and the information in your workbook & DVD is by far the best. I have learned so much & am so exicted to share this info with my clients. Thanks you." Heather Barber LMT, Palmer, Alaska

"Thank you for putting Prenatal Massage Certification course together. It was wonderful. I learned so much and realized afresh how much I love massaging mothers-to-be. I look forward to expanding my practice to include prenatal massage. Thank you for all the time, energy, expertise, resources, perseverance and commitment it took for you to produce this course. You have enriched my career and will share in the enrichment I am privileged to pass to my clients. I know being equipped to do prenatal massage will expand and extend my career. Blessings," Susan Valk,  Austin, TX


About the Instructor... 
Judith Koch has been in the massage therapy field since 1991, after taking to heart a book that encourages seeking a career doing something that you love. In her former career, as a sales trainer and manager, she would frequently give her staff neck and shoulder rubs. Always fond of receiving massage herself, she realized this was a career she would love. Once Judith began, it was obvious that this was her niche. Her first discovery was that people like their massage therapist a whole lot better than they like their sales managers. She was hooked.

Less than two years after entering the massage field, three of her regular clients all got pregnant at once. Knowing that they must certainly need massage now more than ever, but having been taught that pregnancy was a contraindication for massage, she decided to fly half way across the country to attend an advanced prenatal, labor and infant massage certification course. She couldn’t believe it -- she found a niche within her niche, and was hooked again, this time getting to watch little miracles happen as icing on the cake. She continued her massage education and achieved national certification status in 1993. Her business continued to grow. An article appeared in the newspaper. The local television news included her in one of their health segments. Massage and Bodywork Quarterly, a national massage association journal, did a story on her. Parenting Magazine did year later. As the years progressed, she has given countless prenatal massages, and attended nearly 100 births. Her mothers maintained an unbelievable average of about four hours of labor, most completely drug free. 

 Early in her prenatal massage career, Judith started hearing about women called doulas (from the Greek word for “servant”), who helped women during labor. Judith had been relying almost exclusively on massage to assist her clients, and she wanted to see what these non-massage therapists were doing to ease labor. She attended the doula training nearest her, and two months later again flew half-way across the country, this time to take advanced doula training from Penny Simkin, a physical therapist who was instrumental in beginning the doula movement within the United States. There, Judith discovered a range of methods to make the laboring and pushing processes easier. Her certification with Doulas of North America was actually delayed several months because her mothers were having their babies too fast to meet DONA’s minimum five hour labor requirement.   Based on her extensive training and experience, she has developed training for massage during all stages of pregnancy and delivery, as well as basic infant massage and movement. Isn’t it time you learn how to start watching miracles happen for a living?

If you are interested in this massage therapy CEU course, other courses that might be of interest to you are: Prenatal Massage Techniques (Step Two), Massage Doula Certification (Step Three), Infant Massage, and Fertility Massage.


Do I have to be a licensed massage therapist to take this course? No, but be advised that our courses are designed as continuing education for licensed and/or certified massage therapists. A non-licensed person may take them for their personal use, but they may not legally charge for these services without a massage license if their jurisdiction requires one, as most jurisdictions do. In most jurisdictions, doulas or other prenatal healthcare providers can use the techniques within the scope of their training and authority, such as a doula using some of the prenatal massage techniques during labor and delivery. You cannot, however, hold yourself out to be a certified prenatal massage therapist without having a massage therapy certification or license.

I am currently enrolled in massage therapy school. Is it possible for me to take the prenatal massage package with doula massage while I am in school still? Yes, you are welcome to begin taking the courses now. Many people do just that. The advantages to an early start are that the minute you do have your license, you’ll be certified and ready to “hit the ground running” in your chosen specialty. Just be aware that you cannot legally practice if you do not yet have any massage license that the jurisdiction where you live requires.

Do you offer installment payments or financing? We accept credit cards, so you can make payments to your credit card company as it fits your budget. We do not offer private financing.

Do you offer this seminar in a live classroom setting, or only online? This course is currently only offered online. With the expense of travel and lodging for our instructor, plus her salary, plus profit and expenses for hosting schools, the tuition would be triple of what it is online. And that isn’t counting the money you would lose (lost work, potential travel expenses, etc) that would cost you on top of tuition.  For more on the advantages and disadvantages for live and online courses, check out our blog post on this topic.  

How long will it take me to complete this course? The number of massage continuing education hours awarded was determined by the NCBTMB, although not everyone reads and studies at the same rate. Some massage therapists report that they are faster or slower than the number of CEs awarded. The theory is that it should take the average person one clock hour for every CE earned, so a 12 hour course should take you 12 actual hours to complete. Therefore, if you work on it 6 hours a day, you'll complete it in two days. If you work on it one hour a month, it will take you a year to complete. You can work on it at your convenience and set your own schedule. Just be sure to complete the course within one year of enrollment, or it will expire.

I have had some prenatal massage elsewhere. Can I skip Step One and go directly to Step Two? Yes, but you will not qulaify to become certified through us if you do this. We have no idea what your initial training taught and how it may or may not substitute for our training.  We have seen pregnancy massage courses that were little more than how to give a regular massage in a sidelying position, without giving any information at all on the physiological changes of pregnancy, complications that could contraindicate massage, etc. We feel it is better that you take a chance of some redundancies than take a chance that you don't learn something important.

Are your online courses downloadable to my computer? You must be logged in on our website to view at least some of the course materials. Many of our courses do have some downloadable files attached. 

Will your online courses work on my phone, tablet, or other device? Yes. Since technology continues its rapid pace forward, it is impossible for us to provide a current and complete list of all devices on which our courses will work. We invite you to take our free sample course so that you can personally test if the online content and streaming video work on your device.

Can I review the course materials after I’ve completed the test? Yes. Even after completing the test, you will have the option to access the online course materials, print another CE certificate, or review your test results. We promise this access for at least one year. We have always exceeded that time period, however, technology updates sometimes make older data inaccessible, so we do not promise more than one year. For this reason, we recommend that you save copies of your certificates and any downloadable PDF files that you may wish to access indefinitely.

Can I print the online test to work on it at my convenience? Yes. We provide a study guide with this course that has the test questions and answer choices. You can print it off and work on it as you study. When you are ready to take the test, you will log into the system and supply your answers to the test questions.

What is the study guide that comes with the course? The course study guide is a copy of the questions you will find on the online exam. As you study the course materials, you can fill in the answers on the guide, to refer to when you complete the online exam. We do not provide page numbers where you will find the answers to the questions, because we want you to study the entire course materials, not just flip to a page to find an answer to a test question.  Because the study guide contains the actual test questions, we do not provide an answer key. It is your job to find the answers as you study. You will get your grade when you complete the online exam.

What happens if I fail the test? Do I have to pay again? No. If you happen to fail our test, you can continue to retest until you do pass at no additional charge.

Is online testing the only testing option you have available? If you enroll online, you will automatically be set up to take the online exam. If you prefer to have a paper test you can submit the study guide by following the instructions on the bottom of the study guide. There is a fee for processing paper testing.

Do you report our course completions to the NCBTMB, ABMP, AMTA, or any other agencies? None of these agencies have a method for us to report to them on your behalf. They prefer that you provide the evidence of CEs that their renewal process details.

To contact the Institute of Somatic Therapy about this or any other massage therapy CEU course, please go to the "contact" link above. Thank you.