Enjoying the art of massage is a wonderful way to ease the aches and pains of modern life. In pregnancy, as the aches and niggles increase, the benefits of prenatal massage do too. This feature investigates the benefits of prenatal massage, how it differs from normal massage and whether this therapy is safe for you and baby.
How does massage help in pregnancy?
Massage is a natural technique that harnesses the soothing and restorative power of touch. Therapists use stroking and rubbing techniques to manipulate areas of the body promoting circulation and blood flow; helping the body to get rid of toxins; and easing sore muscles. This is often used in conjunction with specially tailored aromatherapy oils which enhance the benefits and experience of the massage. Most massages last anything between 30 to 90 minutes and range from light pressure to stronger Swedish techniques. It is best to start with shorter and gentler sessions if you are new to massage, particularly in pregnancy.
Massage can even be used in labour and birth to reduce anxiety, promote calm and increase the levels of oxygen in the blood. It’s particularly useful if the baby is facing the wrong way or ‘back-to-back’. This means that the labour pains are focused on the lower back and can be relieved with strong pressure massage in the area.
In pregnancy, the body changes quickly and significantly to support the growing baby. The centre of gravity alters and weight balance changes as your bump grows and gets heavier. That can change your posture and the way in which the muscles work to support your body. It can often result in more sore points and quite commonly cause an achy back.
Massage can be particularly beneficial to ease these sore muscles and soothe aches and pains. It can help ease swelling and soothe headaches (as long as these are not caused by pre-eclampsia).
Most importantly, it promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being. Pregnancy can be a worrying and anxious time as you await the birth of your little one and you’re thinking about the health of the baby and the huge life change ahead of you. Massage can really help with that, allowing you to zone out and relax, and promoting good sleep and a calm state of mind.
How does pre-natal massage differ from normal massage?
Pre-natal massage is specifically designed with the pregnant woman in mind. Growing bumps and breasts mean that lying on your front can be tricky or unwise. It’s also not advisable to lie on your back in pregnancy as the weight of the uterus puts pressure on a key vein that can restrict blood flow in your body and be dangerous for you. The therapist will therefore settle you on your side using cushions to support you; alternatively she will have a specially modified massage table that can accommodate your growing body comfortably and safely.
Pre-natal massage will be gentle and considerate and can be tailored to suit your personal needs. The therapist will chat with you before starting the session and find out your particular needs, anything that you would like her to focus on, and answer any questions or queries you might have.
Is it safe?
Pre-natal massage should always be carried out by therapists who are specifically trained to deal with pregnancy. Make sure that you inform your salon or spa of your pregnancy at the time of booking and you can confirm that the person allocated to you will be qualified in treating pregnant women.
Most therapists require you to wait until you are into your second trimester before booking a massage. This is the case with most natural therapies. There is no reason to think that massage could cause any ill-effects to mum or baby at all but many therapists want to ensure that pregnancy is fully established first. Often this is just a precaution on the part of the therapists. Because miscarriages are sadly more common in the first trimester of pregnancy, therapists want to ensure that they are not held responsible for any complications or loss in pregnancy.
If you have pre-eclampsia or blood clots or bleeding, it is best to avoid massage, or at least check your individual circumstances with your health provider and your therapist to ensure they are happy for you to proceed.
If you are going to a spa or leisure centre for your treatment, make sure that you avoid jacuzzis, heat wraps and saunas. It’s really important not to allow your body temperature to rise unnaturally as that can be dangerous for you and baby.
All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.