Hand & Foot
What is a prenatal massage?
When pregnant, some people may be unsure whether or not they can get a massage. The prenatal massage was specifically designed to accommodate pregnant women who want to enjoy the benefits of massage. Sometimes referred to as pregnancy massage, prenatal massage is ideal for helping to relieve the aches and soreness that sometimes accompany pregnancy.
What are some Benefits of Prenatal Massage?
Pregnancy changes the body. What happens as the baby grows and the body changes? At times, discomfort can arise. Many experience aches, stiffness, and soreness. This is where prenatal massage can help alleviate some of the physical difficulties that can happen during a pregnancy. Among some of the critical benefits of pregnancy massage are:
As your stomach extends outward, your posture will automatically adjust. The center of gravity changes within the body itself. This, in turn, can put undue stress on certain joints and muscles, thereby causing pain. Most commonly, pregnant women experience such pain in the lower back area, along with the neck, shoulders, and pelvis. Prenatal massage performed by a professional therapist can do a great deal to relieve some of the aches and pains.
Many people who are pregnant experience swelling. From the ankles and legs to the feet and other areas, parts of the body swell due to fluid buildup. As has been shown, massage can help reduce this fluid buildup.
One widespread occurrence that happens during pregnancy is a lack of adequate sleep. Whether because of physical discomfort, overall stress, or insomnia related to other issues, a night of good sound sleep is rare for some who are pregnant. Prenatal massage has been shown to improve the rest of pregnant women.
Any form of massage is relaxing. There are indications that prenatal massage can result in not only lowering stress levels but also in higher infant birth weights. And prenatal massage is primarily geared toward helping soon-to-be mothers relax their muscles and let go of their stress and anxiety. Several scientific studies have shown that prenatal massage managed to reduce the overall stress hormone levels in those expecting. Not to mention, on top of lowering stress levels, massage can also go a long way toward alleviating symptoms of depression.
Understanding Prenatal Massage
One frequently asked question is how exactly is prenatal or pregnancy massage different from other traditional forms of massage therapy? For one, a lot of the difference comes in the positioning of the massage client, or in this case, the mother-to-be. The therapist needs to understand what stage of pregnancy the client is in and consequently how that might affect the body and the various positions it can be put into. For example, lying on one’s back may be prohibitive to an optimal massage experience at a certain point in the pregnancy.
Most prenatal massage clients are positioned on their sides. A pregnant client would not be placed on their stomachs—and in some instances, the back is not optimal either. In the later stages of pregnancy, side positioning is the most common. Also, the client will be propped up and supported by various pillows, padding, and other forms of cushioning. In some cases, depending on the areas pinpointed, the client may sit up or be seated in some form of a reclining chair.
As with other common types of massage, with prenatal massage, various strokes are generally used, including the gliding strokes seen in Swedish massage called effleurage. While when effleurage is done in Swedish massage, the pressure can be a bit stronger, when performed during a pregnancy massage, the strokes are lighter and gentler. The therapist may put more pressure on areas further away from the stomach, depending on the client’s level of soreness and need for muscle relaxation. It is crucial during a prenatal massage to alert the therapist to any specific symptoms such as morning sickness that you may be experiencing.
Are There Any Risks with Prenatal Massage?
Many pregnant women are concerned about doing anything that could be risky or unsafe for the pregnancy. While studies have been done, some of the risks may be for those experiencing higher-risk pregnancies, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or high blood pressure due to their pregnancy. It is always best to consult with your physician first regarding any concerns about getting a prenatal massage.
A doctor may suggest that you avoid prenatal massage at least during the first trimester if yours is a higher risk pregnancy. Again, going with the advice of your physician is always the best course of action. Many doctors will prefer to err on the side of caution in certain circumstances where pregnancy and pregnancy complications are concerned.
Upon any prenatal massage visit, a pregnant person should fill out a medical history, and in some cases, they may be asked to provide healthcare authorization from a doctor. As the session unfolds, you want to be sure to communicate with the massage therapist. For instance, if any discomfort arises, make sure they are aware of it immediately. Before going into the pregnancy massage, be sure to inform the staff and therapist of any health conditions, relevant family medical history, allergies, any medications you may be on, as well as anything else that could help develop an excellent prenatal massage for your specific situation.
What's the Importance of Properly Trained Prenatal Massage Therapists?
Especially where prenatal massage is concerned, you want to seek out the services of a massage therapist with proper training and education. A therapist well-versed in this type of massage will know precisely how to position the body, what techniques to use and what to avoid.
They will also be conversant with what type of massage techniques are suitable for a pregnant person depending on their pregnancy stage. In some cases, specific pressure points may need to be avoided, such as the sacrum and ankles. Some contend that working on these pressure points can lead to premature labor—though there is no evidence to corroborate this.
Also, essential oils with prenatal massage are something else you want to discuss with a massage therapist. Many might suggest that you avoid essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy. Again, this is a question you may also want to ask your doctor.
Should You Avoid Pregnancy Massage?
Most experts will suggest consulting a physician before receiving a prenatal massage, mainly if your pregnancy is a higher risk. Keep in mind that those with the following conditions should always use extra caution:
- Risk of preterm labor
- High blood pressure/preeclampsia
- Clotting disorders
- Placenta previa
If you are not sure, ask your OBGYN if a prenatal massage is suitable for your condition. It is better to be cautious here.
How to Best Enjoy A Massage During Pregnancy?
It is essential to ensure that the massage therapist you are working with is certified and licensed. Their training and experience where prenatal massage is concerned are pretty necessary. And as mentioned, first consulting with your doctor or a midwife regarding whether or not you should get a prenatal massage and, if so, what limitations there may be is an essential first step. As with any massage, it’s always a good idea to hydrate first. And then, once the massage is complete, continue to hydrate.
Prenatal massage is beneficial for alleviating aches and pains and reducing stress during pregnancy. The key is to enjoy the experience and make sure that the massage therapist understands your needs. Communication is key.