Pregnancy is one of the most special times in a woman’s life. However, due to the significant physiological changes occurring in your body, you may not feel as physically comfortable as before. The increased weight, hormonal changes, and stress of an expecting mother can be helped significantly by pregnancy massage.
What is Pregnancy Massage?
Pregnancy massage, or pre-natal massage, is a set of alternative methods of providing the nurturing care a pregnant woman needs during therapeutic massage. Generally, pregnancy massage is very similar to Swedish massage with several positional adjustments to accommodate a pregnant body.
Pre-cautions for Pregnancy Massage:
- Always talk to your doctor before receiving any form of massage during your pregnancy. Pregnancy massage may not be recommended in women with diabetes or high blood pressure.
- During the first trimester, some massage therapists will not perform pregnancy massage due to the increased risk of miscarriage during this time; however, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting massage can induce a miscarriage.
- Always seek a qualified massage therapist with additional training in pregnancy massage. Some acupressure points in your foot and ankle area are contraindicated for pregnancy, as they may induce uterine contractions.
Techniques of Pregnancy Massage
Pregnancy massage is uniquely tailored to accommodate the changes that are occurring in a woman’s body during pregnancy. The additional weight of the baby can cause significant stress on your back, hips, and legs leading to poor posture.
Body position during pregnancy massage is the most significant change from standard treatment. Even before your belly begins to grow, you may find it uncomfortable to lie facedown on a massage table due to swollen or tender breasts.
Most pregnancy massage treatments begin in a semi-reclined position, with the body supported by pillows behind the head and upper back, and under the knees to help relax the lower back. Lying completely flat on your back during pregnancy can be uncomfortable and possibly constrict blood flow in your inferior vena cava, restricting the blood supply to the heart.
A secondary pregnancy massage position will have you lying on your side. A large body pillow is used for you to hug that will support your abdomen, arm, and leg. Pillows wedged behind your back can provide additional stabilization of your upper body to make you more comfortable. This pregnancy massage position will allow the massage therapist to give you a back massage without you having to lie on your stomach.
Style of Treatment:
Pregnancy massage is usually given as a lighter form of Swedish massage. The soft, flowing techniques are ideal to gently relieve tension without over stimulating the body. All deep tissue massage techniques should be avoided, as well as massage directly over the lower abdomen. As mentioned earlier, stimulation of acupressure points on the ankles should be avoided, as some of these points can induce uterine contractions.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Pregnancy massage can help you manage many of the changes that are occurring in your body.
- Ease your Pains and Aches: The additional weight of the baby places an increased stress on your back, legs, and hips. Back pain, leg cramps, and shoulder and neck pain can become problematic as the baby increases in size, and taking medications is not always a safe option. Pregnancy massage can help ease your muscle tension and balance your muscles to correct your posture.
- Reduce Edema and Swelling: Pregnancy massage can help normalize lymphatic and blood flow in your body to help remove the excessive water that may collect in your legs.
- Relieve Anxiety, Stress, and Insomnia: Becoming a mother is a major life change, and fluctuating hormones can make emotions even more difficult to manage. Pregnancy massage can help balance you hormones and comfort you during these difficult times by providing some needed nurturing and relaxation.
- Help you have an easier delivery: Research has shown the women who receive pregnancy massage have a shorter labor during delivery, due to its ability to relax the pelvis. Pregnancy massage can even be used during labor to improve your comfort.
- Keep receiving massage after delivery: You may even want to consider continuing to receive massage after delivery to assist you in recovering from your pregnancy. Massage can help realign your body back to its previous condition and help you avoid post-partum depression.