Massage, as we know, has been used for centuries to improve general musculoskeletal health, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and reduce stress but massage during pregnancy often receives ambivalent responses regarding it’s safety. We know now through medical research that prenatal massage can be an integral part of prenatal care.
What do I need to take into consideration?
Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy during pregnancy, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage.
How can massage help?
Massage can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Swedish massage, which aims to relax muscle tension and improve, lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscles groups.
Swedish Massage is the recommended prenatal massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.
Massage can also assist with hormone regulation, including reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. It can also increase dopamine and serotonin, reducing the risk of postnatal depression.
Massage can ease swelling of the joints associated with pregnancy, like carpal tunnel syndrome or general oedema.
It can also ease nerve pain. Sciatic nerve pain is quite common during pregnancy, especially during the later weeks when the baby is growing and sitting low into the pelvis. Massage can ease the muscle tension around the gluteal area that tends to be the main cause of sciatic nerve pain.
Is it safe to be massaged during my first trimester?
In short, yes it is.
Throughout the pregnancy there are several contraindications for massage but the stage of pregnancy is not one of them. Many clinics and spas will refuse massage in the first trimester simply because of the increased risk of miscarriage at that time.
Can I use muscle balms and heat creams during my pregnancy?
It is quite normal to have aches and pains through out the pregnancy, many that are caused by muscle tension but unfortunately most muscle balms and heat creams are not safe to use.
Many contain ingredients such as petrochemicals or essential oils that may effect cell development or stimulate contractions during pregnancy.
Can I have deep tissue massage during pregnancy?
There are some areas you can have deep tissue massage and some areas you cant. Areas that need to be avoided are the abdomen and lower back ,where the baby is not protected by bony areas; and the legs to avoid moving any blood clots that may have formed with the change in hormones.
Can I lie on my stomach?
If you are still comfortable, early in the pregnancy to lie on your stomach, you may do so during the massage.
I can’t lie on my stomach. How will you massage me?
You will be positioned on your side. The massage therapist will work one side of the body and one leg, then have you roll to your other side. The massage therapist may finish with you on your back, but ensure you are tilted to the left, so the baby is not lying directly over the main artery to the brain. This could cause light-headedness or fainting.
Some massage therapist may have a pregnancy pillow that will allow you to lie face down during the massage but these pillows are a ‘one size fits all’. They can cause restriction to the belly or undue pressure on the uterine ligaments.
Always if at any time you are feeling unwell or uncomfortable for any reason during a massage, please be sure to speak up. No massage therapist will want you to be uncomfortable during your massage.
One more benefit of having massage during pregnancy, that is invaluable to both, is maintaining that connection between mother and baby.