Also referred to as prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is a growing trend that benefits pregnant women the same way massages benefit non-pregnant women. Of course, there are subtle differences between massaging a woman versus a pregnant woman, as safety is first. Massage therapists are taught about prenatal massage during their training, but finding a therapist who is specialized and certified in pregnancy massage is probably the best way to go for an expectant mother.
Therapeutic massages are known to help pregnant women reduce and relieve lots of different aches, pains and tension found in the muscles, joints and nerves. There are special tables, prenatal massage tables that have a hole in the center for the uterus to fit into. However, not all women benefit from these tables and find that normal massage tables work just as well.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massages
During pregnancy, hormones are constantly changing and causing discomfort, pain, circulatory and skeletal changes. Here’s a look at some of the benefits pregnant women can experience by receiving a pregnancy massage:
- Relaxes muscles
- Eases built up tension
- Improves blood circulation throughout body
- Regulates hormones
- Reduces swelling
- Reduces nerve pain
- Relieves back pain
- Relieves swelling and pain in joints (edema)
- Plays major role in mood and attitude
- Improves sleep patterns
- Improves lymph system
Women who receive regular pregnancy massages are said to have less complications during labor and delivery. Newborn complications such as low birth weight are also said to be fewer when a mother receives therapeutic massages while pregnant.
Pregnancy Massage Safety
There are a number of different safety precautions both the expectant mother and the massage therapist need to take before a massage is given to a pregnant woman. As an expectant mother, it’s important that you also know what safety measures should be taken. Relying on the expertise and experience of a massage therapist is important, but it’s more important that the mother is also educated about positions, pressure points and the certification of the massage therapist.
Body positions are an important part of safety during a massage. Lots of pregnant women are comfortable using a prenatal massage table, while others are not. So when is it appropriate for a woman to choose? Always. There is speculation about whether a pregnant woman should use a prenatal massage table after her second trimester. Not only is it not recommended for a woman to lay on her stomach during pregnancy, most women who use a table with a hole in it (prenatal massage table) state they feel discomfort and pain in their breasts due to inflammation and tenderness of them. Lying on your back is also a no-no since the uterus applies pressure to the vein that allows blood flow from the legs to the heart when in this position.
The best position for any pregnant woman to receive a therapeutic massage is lying on her side. Many times, a full body pillow is used to add support, but it’s not always necessary.
Our ankles and wrists have certain pressure points on them that stimulate pelvic muscles and uterus. Trained professionals are aware of these points, but certified professionals are trained to avoid these pressure points while a client is pregnant. Women suffering from contractions, including Braxton Hicks contractions, should notify their massage therapist so he or she can avoid these points during the massage.
Can All Pregnant Women Receive a Prenatal Massage?
Not all pregnant women are recommended to seek therapeutic massages during their pregnancy, especially if they have one or more of the following conditions:
- High-risk pregnancy
- PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension)
- Recent birth
- Previous pre-term labor problems
- Swelling is severe
- High blood pressure
- Severe headaches and/or migraines
TIP: Something to keep in mind is that you can receive a pregnancy massage at any point during your pregnancy, however, there are numerous facilities and massage therapists who will refuse to offer services to a woman in her first trimester. This is due to the increased chances of a miscarriage during the first trimester.
Who Should I Talk to About Pregnancy Massages?
You can talk to anyone really. Friends and family are always a good place to start, as they may have opinions, advice and referrals for you. You may also want to speak with your OBGYN, doula or midwife about receiving this type of prenatal care. They too may have a referral for you. You also want to find a massage therapist who is certified and trained specifically when dealing with pregnant women. Use some of the information found here to create a list of questions for each of the professionals in your life about massages during pregnancy. Example questions can be:
- What trimester will be best to start pregnancy massage therapy?
- Do you know what pressure points to avoid?
- What type of massage table is going to be used?
- How often should I receive massage therapy once it begins?
- Can my massage therapist be with me during labor?
- Who is responsible if something goes wrong with my pregnancy after receiving a massage?