What is a pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is a form of bodywork therapy designed to meet the needs of pregnant women as their bodies go through the dramatic changes of pregnancy. This kind of massage helps enhance the functioning of joints and muscles, improve blood circulation and general body tone, and relieve mental and physical fatigue.
Is pregnancy massage safe?
Generally, pregnancy massage are considered safe after the first trimester of pregnancy. It should be remembered to avoid getting a massage during the first three months as it might trigger dizziness which can add to the daily morning sickness. Also, avoid applying direct pressure on the area between the heel and ankle bone as it can trigger contractions. Deep kneading in the abdomen area may also make the client uncomfortable.
It is not advisable to receive pregnancy massage for any of the following conditions:
- At high risk of miscarriage
- Experiences nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness
- At high-risk pregnancy such as placental abruption and preterm labor
- Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)
If the client is on the fourth month of pregnancy, lying on her back during the massage should be avoided as the weight of the baby and uterus might compress the blood vessels and reduce circulation to the placenta.
Finally, it is important to consult with the practitioner first for any underlying conditions before receiving a massage to determine if getting a massage might pose risks during the pregnancy.
Pregnancy massage techniques
There are several techniques designed for pregnancy massage and the most common ones include:
- Deep tissue massage - helps relieve muscle swelling, tension, and stress.
- Swedish massage - helps relax muscle tension and improve circulation
- Shiatsu - helps stimulate natural energy
Pregnancy massage therapists adapt their techniques to address the unique changes of the woman’s body during pregnancy.
Additionally, there are techniques that can be done at home such as:
- Gentle foot rub
- Back rub
- Shoulder rub
- Scalp massage
What to expect from a pregnancy massage
Pregnancy massage is a hands-on massage and usually lasts for about an hour. Therapists use a pregnancy massage table to accommodate the mother’s pregnant belly. Others also use bolsters or specially designed pillows to comfortably position the mother on her side. Lying on the side is often the most comfortable position during the later stages of pregnancy.
Benefits of pregnancy massage
Studies have shown that receiving massage therapy during pregnancy can help reduce anxiety, lower depression symptoms, relieve muscle and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and the health of the newborn.
Additionally, the following are potential benefits of pregnancy massage:
- Stimulates the release of the happiness hormone serotonin
- Improves sleep
- Promotes the physiological response of relaxation
- Relieves and improves nerve pain
- Reduces swelling
- Reduces back pain
- Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
- Improves oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles