Pregnancy Massage is a slow, soothing and calming massage for the various stages of pregnancy after the first trimester. During this massage, you lie on your side, with pillows, blankets and towels to support and warm your body and bump.
Not only is it a highly relaxing treatment, but it also helps to alleviate side effects such as backaches and swelling.
Pregnancy Massage can be of benefit not only to the mother but also to the unborn baby. It can emotionally and physiologically support the mother during a time of great change in the body. Pregnancy Massage can also help the mother prepare her body for birth.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for a woman, however, every system of the body is affected. The process puts pressure on joints, ligaments and organs, causing discomfort and pain.
Pregnancy can also be a stressful time for the mother, for many reasons. Massage will help with stress levels due to its calming effect. Regular massage whilst pregnant can make the mother more aware of her own body, helping with the ability to relax outside of the treatment.
Pregnancy Massage is safe because it is slow and gentle, treating the client with the utmost care. However, as a complementary therapy, it is not an alternative to normal maternity care. A comprehensive consultation will take place before proceeding with the massage. Massage is only done if it is safe to do so.
The Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
There are many benefits to a pregnancy massage:
- It will stimulate the circulation, aiding distribution of essential nutrients and fluids to all the major organs of the body including the placenta.
- Pregnancy Massage will release muscular tension of the upper back, shoulders, lower back and hips. It will help with varicose veins developing and with sluggish bowel movement. Pregnancy Massage encourages the release of oxytocin, this is a pain reducing hormone which provides vital pain relief during labour and birth.
- The massage will help in reducing any emotional stress and anxiety that the mother is feeling at this time of change.
- The intention of Pregnancy Massage is to induce a state of deep relaxation and enhance the mother’s sleep. It is reported that mothers who sleep well during the last month of their pregnancy have shorter labours.
- Pregnancy Massage can provide vital monitoring support to the client and her health care professional, such as her GP or midwife.
Contraindications for Pregnancy Massage
Any therapies used during pregnancy, including massage must be a complementary therapy and are not an alternative to maternity care by health care professionals.
Most massage is contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy. This is a safety precaution as there is a greater natural risk of miscarriage during this time.
Pregnancy Massage is contraindicated or not suitable for pregnant women who are experiencing cramping, bleeding or abdominal or pelvic pain.
It is should be avoided if the client has been diagnosed with (or has a history of) high-risk pregnancy, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism unless massage is specified by a health care professional.
Pregnancy Massage FAQ
1. It is safe to get a massage during your first trimester?
This is believed to be the biggest myth surrounding pregnancy massage. It is indeed perfectly safe to get a pregnancy massage even though many massage therapists do not offer these services due to the fact that miscarriage happens more often in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
2. Are there circumstances when massage during pregnancy isn’t advisable?
In some cases, it would be inappropriate to perform massage. If the risks outweigh the benefits of pregnancy massage – It would not be advisable to get a massage.
3. What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is the use of therapeutic massage techniques designed to maintain the well being of mother and child. Although pregnancy massage is almost similar to traditional massage, the massage techniques adapted in pregnancy massage are softer and more focused on relaxing the expectant mother and relieving discomfort.
4. What to expect during a pregnancy massage?
Safety and comfort are crucial in a pregnancy massage treatment. Therefore, you may be asked a few questions about the type of massage you’d prefer. Usually, the most comfortable position for an expectant mother during a pregnancy massage is lying on one side.
You also have a choice when it comes to how much clothing you’d like during the massage session. A typical pregnancy massage treatment should last around one hour.
5. Is it safe to have a pregnancy massage?
While pregnancy massage is good for expectant mothers, it is not suitable for everyone. Therefore, you need to consult with your obstetrician and physical therapist before considering this treatment.
To be on the safer side, conduct some background checks to ensure the therapist you choose is trained, certified and licensed.
6. Can I get massages throughout my whole pregnancy?
A skilled massage therapist with years of experience knows the right types of pregnancy massage techniques to adapt to expectant mothers at different stages. In other words, the massage technique to be employed largely depends on the stage of pregnancy you are at.
However, due to the increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage during the first few weeks of pregnancy, undergoing a pregnancy massage in the first trimester is discouraged in some facilities. Pregnancy massages on the abdomen are also discouraged during this period.
7. How is pregnancy massage different from regular massage?
While pregnancy massage involves the use of massage techniques similar to those of regular massage sessions, pregnancy massage is considered a treatment procedure designed to improve the overall health of an expectant mother. Massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as a physical and emotional supplement for improving maternal health and pregnancy outcome.
Unlike regular massage, you have to speak with your obstetrician or midwife before beginning a pregnancy massage. More importantly, there are certain guidelines in a pregnancy massage to ensure the treatment is safe and beneficial to the expectant mother. With regular massage, you don’t have to observe stringent safety precautionary measures. In addition, the treatment session should be performed by a qualified professional who knows how to handle an expectant mother safely and choose the most appropriate pregnancy massage type that suits specific needs.
During a regular massage session, you might spend half the time lying face-down on your stomach, which is definitely uncomfortable for a pregnant woman. Furthermore, lying facing up is also uncomfortable as it puts pressure on major blood vessels and inhibits blood flow, a position that may make an expectant mother feel nauseated. On the other hand, pregnancy massage is adapted to suit the anatomical changes you go through during pregnancy.
8. How to give a prenatal massage at home?
With proper skills and by observing the necessary safety precautions, pregnancy massage can be performed safely at home. Prenatal yoga is great for reducing stress.
However, if your partner is around, he should consider these pregnancy massage tips when performing an at-home pregnancy massage:
Factors to consider when performing at-home pregnancy massage
- Gentle foot rub: Your partner should rub the top of your foot with gentle pressure using lotion for smoother strokes. The rubbing should start from the toes towards the ankle while making small circles around your ankle. Have him make small circles on the sole of your foot beneath the toes using his thumbs. He can move one thumb up as the other moves down on the heel and keep alternating the movement for optimal effect. He can also use the index finger to tug on each toe and rub between them. Remind him to avoid triggering contractions by exerting direct pressure between the anklebone
- Backrub: Have your partner stroke the back up and down with his both hands while sitting up or lying on your side. It is advisable to use lotion or massage oils to glide his hands. The up and down strokes can transition to the kneading of the muscles on either side of the spine with his thumbs
- Shoulder rub: Have your partner use the pads of his fingertips or the base of the hand to apply gentle pressure on your neck and glide between the base of the skull and top of the shoulder
- Scalp massage: Ask your partner to perform a scalp massage by using both hands and spreading his fingers to apply pressure on the scalp from the base of the skull to the hairline. With a gentle stroke of the face and circling of hands together and apart, you’ll experience amazing relaxation
- Belly: Use Vitamin E oil to rub the belly gently for a soothing effect. This will also prevent stretch marks. Massaging the belly can be uncomfortable and unsafe
9. When should I avoid a pregnancy massage?
Expectant mothers with a high risk of experiencing premature labour shouldn’t undergo pregnancy massage treatments. Pregnancy massage might also be unsafe for expectant mothers experiencing nausea and headaches. Women who recently gave birth, experiencing high blood pressure, have preeclampsia or Pregnancy Induced hypertension (PIP) should consult with a health care provider before receiving pregnancy massage.
You should consider pregnancy massage when you’re more than 12 weeks into pregnancy.
10. Postnatal Massage
Postnatal massage helps reduce the tension that builds up during pregnancy and during the birthing process. You need a postnatal massage to help your body reverse the physical changes it underwent during the nine months of pregnancy.
Undergoing massage after giving birth helps in recovering the pelvic floor, tightening up loosened skin, reducing the caesarean scar and generally spending some good time unwinding away from the baby.
It is a perfect way to look after yourself after the baby arrives. Furthermore, it is a great way to deal with the physical demands of caring for your newborn baby.