Many women are unaware of the benefits of performing a pregnancy massage (sometimes called a prenatal massage). They undergo massage therapy to get back into shape and lose weight after the baby is born; however, massage therapy during pregnancy has its benefits as well: it helps reduce discomfort related to pregnancy and acts as a stress-reducing technique for moms-to-be. A good pregnancy massage will be extremely beneficial for the pregnant mom’s health. Pregnancy massage refers to massage therapy administered both during and after pregnancy. Massage therapy sessions usually last an hour or more. However, before you sign up for a massage, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor, who will let you know whether it’s safe for you and your baby to receive the treatment.
Benefits of a Pregnancy Massage
No two bodies are exactly alike, thus different women will experience different results after their massage therapy – some will be more positive than others. However, here is a list of some of the possible benefits of a regular pregnancy massage:
- Reduces levels of stress and anxiety common in pregnant women.
- Increases level of “good” hormones (hormones that make you feel good).
- Boosts your mood.
- Improves your sleep routine.
- Relieves pain (especially back and leg pain common in pregnant women).
- Reduces swelling by improving circulation.
- Relaxes mind and body.
- Improves the immune system and thus your ability to fight various infections and viruses.
How to perform a pregnancy massage
1. Comfortable position
The first step in performing a pregnancy massage is to make sure the subject is in a comfortable position. The masseurs usually perform pregnancy massages on a massage table designed to comfortably accommodate a pregnant woman. Massage tables often have pillows specially designed for the comfort of pregnant women, allowing them to lie on their side to provide a comfortable position for both the mother and the child within the womb. Comfortable is vitally important. If you feel any discomfort, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist for more pillows or move around until you find an absolutely comfortable position.
2. Personal preferences
For a completely relaxing full-body pregnancy massage, it’s better to remove all your clothing. However, it’s not obligatory – so do whatever makes you most comfortable.
3. Communicate with the therapist
To ensure the massage therapy is as beneficial and soothing as possible, talk to your therapist about your preferences and the state of your health. The more a therapist knows about your health, the better they can cater to your needs. Lack of communication about medical issues can end up causing harm to your body or to your unborn baby. It is extremely important to share everything related to your pregnancy and body with the therapist.
4. Use of massage oils and lotions
Pregnant women often become more sensitive to smells and fragrances. So if you think you might have an aversion to the massage oils or lotions your therapist may use to ensure a smooth massage, you can always bring your own lubrication. Just remember: not just any old oil or lotion will do – it should be one that’s specially produced for massage therapy.
5. Common Pregnancy Massage Techniques
Below, we summarize some of the most popular techniques that are suitable and safe for pre- and postnatal massage therapy:
- Swedish Massage – Long straight strokes on muscles focused on flexibility and movements of joints.
- Shiatsu Massage – Tapping and pressure-releasing technique to improve the circulation of energy within the body.
- Deep Tissue Massage – Greater pressure on muscles to relieve acute tension.
Massage therapists generally use a combination of techniques to meet your needs. The techniques they use take account of changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Thus therapists apply less pressure to a pregnant subject’s legs to avoid the possibility of dislodging blood that may be clotting as a natural consequence of pregnancy due to the larger-than-usual volume of blood along with poor circulation. As with the legs, so too with the belly, where the therapist should not apply excessive pressure. Massage to the belly should be extremely gentle and minimal on the abdomen as well to avoid injury to mother or child.
- Women with high-risk pregnancies should avoid massages altogether.
- Before booking a massage with any therapist, do some research to make sure they have the relevant qualifications to give a massage as a professional massage therapist.
- Comfort and safety should always be the top priority when having a massage.
- When the massage is over, be very careful when getting off the massage table. And don’t be afraid of asking for help.
Pregnancy massage is not mandatory. Neither your health and nor the health of your baby will suffer if you choose to forgo pregnancy massage therapy. Consider safety first. Always consult your gynecologist before committing to any supplementary treatment. Some doctors may not recommend any therapy at all because of a lack of training in the art of pregnancy massage. In many cases, however, some may recommend the services of a massage therapist who’s simply perfect for you.
When to avoid massage
There are some cases, where you are strongly advised not to opt for pregnancy massage. But in order to be sure, you should consult your doctor. Certain conditions include:
- When you have a risk of miscarriage.
- Pregnancies that are termed high-risk, such as placental abruption, preterm labor, etc.
- When you are having morning sickness, nausea or similar health issues.
Pregnant women need prenatal care, and the benefits to health and wellbeing that massage therapy offers are worth trying. Not only does pregnancy massage give you physical health benefits, but it also supports your emotional health. The health of women who have undergone massage therapy during pregnancy has generally shown improvement. But before opting for any kind of massage therapy when pregnant, it is compulsory to consult your obstetrician.