As a woman gets further along in her pregnancy, her body begins to change – increasing belly size, swelling of ankles and legs, sensitivity to smell, frequent bathroom visits, etc. Most women become increasingly uncomfortable as their due date approaches. A prenatal massage can relieve a great deal of the aches, pains, stresses, and anxieties associated with pregnancy. Before receiving a prenatal massage, here are some benefits, tips, warnings, and other information you should know.
Note: Because there is some risk involved in prenatal massages, you should consult with your doctor and/or midwife before scheduling a prenatal massage. This guide is solely intended for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a trained medical professional. Use your own discretion when deciding to receive a prenatal massage.
A prenatal massage is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a massage specifically for pregnant women that helps relieve pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy. The most common massages and techniques used for prenatal massages include Swedish massages, reflexology, circulatory work, and cranial sacral therapy. One of the most popular massages, a Swedish massage, uses “smooth, long strokes and kneading to loosen any tension.” Reflexology focuses on the feet, hands, and ears. Other areas are affected when pressure is applied to certain spots on these particular body parts. Circulatory work is a combination of different massage techniques that focus on increasing the flow of blood within the body. Cranial sacral therapy focuses on massaging the skull and spinal column. A prenatal massage session usually lasts anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes and focuses on the upper body as well as the spinal column because of the added pressure and strain. Prenatal massage therapists usually choose not to focus on the legs, only doing light massages, because of the increased risk of blood clots.
Prenatal massages can improve both the mind and body. They can lower anxiety, stress hormones, swelling, sciatic nerve pain, headaches, and migraines. This is due to the fact that it increases “feel good” hormones, such as serotonin. Serotonin increases your mood, lowers your chance of depression, and lessens mood swings. Basically, it puts you in a better mood, which allows you to spend more time on time important things, such as preparing for the baby. A prenatal massage can also increase your blood oxygen level by 10-15%, strengthening the immune system. A strong immune system is important for both mommy and baby in the time leading up to and after birth. It also increases the circulation of lymphatic fluid, which in turn, reduces edema. After a massage session, many women experience decreased joint and back pain as well as reduced muscle tension, resulting in improved sleep. If you or someone you love has benefited from a prenatal massage, then comment and let us know.
How to Give a Prenatal Massage
The key to giving a prenatal massage is not to give a prenatal massage unless, of course, you’re a certified prenatal massage therapist. One thing that you can do is read and share the information in this blog with an expectant mother, so that she can decide whether or not she would like to receive a massage by a qualified individual. If she does decide to have a prenatal massage after consulting her doctor, you can offer to schedule, pay, and accompany her to the session.
1) Ensure that your massage therapist is a registered prenatal massage therapist. Ask them about their certification process, how much experience they have with prenatal massages, and if they’re up-to-date on the latest techniques and safety guidelines.
2) Do not consume a full meal or large beverage amount before your prenatal massage. Doing so may result in (even more) frequent trips to the restroom, disrupting the flow and atmosphere of the massage. With that said, go the restroom right before your appointment so you can have an empty bladder.
3) Although aromatherapy is a popular pastime for those looking to relax, it should be avoided during pregnancy. Inform your massage therapist ahead of time if certain scents trigger nausea. If you are especially sensitive to smell during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid aromatherapy altogether to prevent unnecessary discomfort.
4) If and when available, have a consultation with your massage therapist before your first visit. Inform them of how far along you are in your pregnancy, what your goals and expectations are for your session, and any allergies you may to lotions or oils. If your session is at a spa, ask for a small tour of the back so you can make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re having a private, at-home session, ask your therapist about the size and type of the table they use as well and if there are any special preparations you need to make.
5) Relax and enjoy your massage. After all, you have a tiny human growing inside of you; you deserve to be pampered.
1) Prenatal massages are not safe for women who are in their first trimester due to their increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage.
2) Do not lay flat on your back. Doing so causes your uterus and baby to put pressure on your vena cava – the primary vein that carries blood back to your heart – lowering your blood pressure.
3) Your session should not include a deep massage or strong pressure on the legs because of your increased blood volume and coagulants. This could cause a blood clot to loosen and travel to your heart, resulting in a life-threatening situation.
4) If you feel ill before your appointment, including experiencing nausea, vomiting, and/or morning sickness, call your massage therapist to cancel. You don’t want to aggravate your symptoms more with a massage.
5) If you feel pain or discomfort at any point during your prenatal massage session, tell your massage therapist immediately so they can stop and address the issue. Remember your massage should be comfortable and relaxing not painful and tense.
So the safest way for you to give a prenatal massage is for you to be a certified prenatal massage therapist, and since the majority of the world’s population doesn’t hold that title, the next best thing for you to do is to schedule a massage therapy session. Make sure you talk to the mom-to-be well in advance so that she has time to consult with her doctor before the appointment. When you’re ready, give TalkLocal a call and we’ll connect you with the right massage therapist, so you can get back to doing more important things, like preparing for baby.