Massage During Pregnancy? Great Idea!
By Katie Meyer, Sans Souci Massage
A relaxing massage can be a wonderful treat while you are pregnant. But if an expectant mother is thinking of receiving massage, there are some special considerations. I advise that if your pregnancy has been diagnosed as high-risk, you will need to have written release from your physician before getting a massage. Reasons your pregnancy might be considered high-risk would be: twin pregnancy, previous miscarriages, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia (toxemia), gestational diabetes, and deep vein thrombosis.
You also want to make sure you are seeing a therapist who knows appropriate and effective techniques to help the pregnant mother and baby stay safe. I am a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist. The average training for prenatal massage is 24 to 32 hours. Most massage schools incorporate this training into their curriculum.
For prenatal massage in the first trimester, the mother can be in the prone (face-down) position. No abdominal work. No deep low back work. No essential oils should be used.
For the second and third trimesters, the mother should be in side-lying and semi-reclined positions with the use of soft pillows for bolstering, to keep her comfortable and secure. Light abdominal work can be done if that is wanted by the mother. Essential oils can be added as long as they are safe for pregnancy. (Safe in second and third trimester: bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, sweet orange, tea tree, ylang ylang.)
During all three trimesters, ligaments become loose due to the increased hormones (relaxin) secreted during pregnancy, which causes the muscles to tighten up. No percussion/tapotement will be done in the massage, no deep stroking on vasculatures or abdomen, no strenuous mobilizations, no specific work to the reflexive points/acupressure points that can stimulate contractions.
Prenatal massage, much like Swedish massage, assists the circulatory and lymphatic systems, eases sore muscles, calms the nervous system, can help a client learn relaxation skills to be used during labor, stimulates proprioception (a person’s sense of awareness of their position and movement)—the mother’s body is changing throughout the pregnancy especially during the third trimester when the baby is growing at an astounding rate and can make the mother clumsy and prone to injury—and promotes release of emotional and physical tension.
During the pregnancy, massage will help the mother better deal with what is happening with her body. Hormonal surges can create mood swings. Increased fatigue from the extra weight she is carrying and the many changes happening within her body can be helped by relaxing strokes and breathing exercises. Her heart will be working harder due to the increase of blood needed during pregnancy, so it’s important to keep her positioned correctly to keep pressure off the vena cava. Her pulmonary system is overloaded with the need for more oxygen consumption, and she will experience labored breathing with easy tasks. Massage helps release her intercostal muscles to help her breathe easier. Her digestive system will be crowded by the baby’s growth, causing heartburn, constipation, and nausea. Massage techniques can help with constipation and ease her discomfort. Her skeletal system is stressed by the increased weight located on the front of the body causing low back/hip discomfort. Massage can help reduce this discomfort.
Massage can help loosen the pelvis and rid the body of excess tension so that the birthing experience can be easier. Massage also can help with the mother’s mind/body awareness, bringing her focus to the task at hand.
The baby is directly affected by how the mother is feeling. The relaxed state will transfer to the baby.
Katie Meyer is one of seven therapists at Sans Souci Massage; all of which have had training in Prenatal Massage. Visit our website www.sanssoucimassage.com to learn more about what we have to offer you or to schedule your appointment with our online scheduler.