There’s nothing like a soothing massage (ahh…) to rub away the pains and strains of pregnancy.
Anyone who’s ever had a professional massage knows that both body and mind feel better afterwards — and the same goes for prenatal massage, which can feel extra wonderful when extra weight and changes in posture stir up new aches and pains. Here’s what you need to know about prenatal massage.
Are massages during pregnancy safe?
Pre natal massages are generally considered safe after the first trimester, as long as get the green light from you practitioner and you let your massage therapist know you’re pregnant. But you’ll want to avoid massage during the first three months of pregnancy as it may trigger dizziness and added morning sickness.
Despite myths you might have heard, there’s is no magic eject button that will accidentally disrupt your pregnancy — although direct pressure on the area between the anklebone and heel can trigger contractions and should be avoided. Make sure your massage therapist avoids the abdomen area, too, where deep kneading can make you uncomfortable.
If you are in the second half of your pregnancy (after the fourth month), don’t lie on your back during your massage; the weight of your baby and uterus can compress blood vessels and reduce circulation to your placenta, creating more problems than any massage can cure.
Another thing to keep in mind: While any massage therapist can, theoretically, work on pregnant women, it’s best to go to a specialist who has a minimum of 16 hours of advanced training in maternal massage. (There’s no specific certification, so you should ask when you make your appointment.) This way, you can rest assured you’re in the hands of someone who knows exactly how to relieve any pain and pressure related to your changing anatomy.
Finally, whilst not always necessary, it is sometimes a good idea to check with your G or midwife before receiving a prenatal massage — particularly if you have diabetes, morning sickness, preeclampsia, low lying placenta, high blood pressure, fever, a contagious virus, abdominal pain or bleeding — they’re complications that could make massage during pregnancy risky.
Benefits of prenatal massage
Research shows that massage can reduce stress hormones in your body and relax and loosen your muscles. It can also increase blood flow, which is so important when you’re pregnant, and keep your lymphatic system working at peak efficiency, flushing out toxins from your body. And it reconnects your mind with your body, a connection that’s comforting if you sometimes wonder if there’s a baby in there or if an alien has taken up residence inside of you.
During pregnancy, regular prenatal massages may not only help you relax, but may also relieve insomnia, joint pain, neck and back pain, leg cramping and sciatica. Additionally, it can reduce swelling in your hands and feet (as long as that swelling isn’t a result of preeclampsia), relieve carpal tunnel pain, and alleviate headaches and sinus congestion — all common pregnancy problems. Massage may also lift depression without the use of medication, according to some scientific studies.
How prenatal massage differs from regular massage
Prenatal massages are adapted for the anatomical changes you go through during pregnancy. In a traditional massage, you might spend half the time lying face-down on your stomach (which is uncomfortable with a baby belly) and half the time facing up (a position that puts pressure on a major blood vessel that can disrupt blood flow to your baby and leave you feeling nauseous).
But as your shape and posture changes, a trained massage therapist will make accommodations with special cushioning systems or holes that allow you to lie face down safely, while providing room for your growing belly and breasts. Or you might lie on your side with the support of pillows and cushions.
And don’t expect deep tissue work on your legs during a prenatal massage: While gentle pressure is safe (and can feel heavenly!), pregnant women are particularly susceptible to blood clots, which deep massage work can dislodge. If the clots make their way to your brain or heart, this can be dangerous for you (and your baby).
On other body parts, the pressure can be firm and as deep or as gentle as you’d like. Always communicate with your therapist about what feels good — and if something starts to hurt.
How much do prenatal massages cost?
At Naturally Heaven Therapy, our pregnancy massages start from £37. Book your appointment online today!