A women’s body will go undergo any number of changes during pregnancy. As miraculous and, beautiful as giving birth may be, the fact is any sized body will be carrying around more blood and weight during this time — hence fatigue and swelling are common happenings. Many women also experience compressed nerves, anxiety & depression, and sore muscles as a result of being pregnant.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, massage therapy can reduce anxiety, relieve muscle tension, improve joint pains, circulation, and lymphatic flow, and even possibly improve labor outcomes. It’s important that you find a therapist that is trained in pregnancy massage and communicate your treatment plans with your doctor. Pregnancy massage is safe and relaxing for a mother to be, yet there are certain contraindications. For instance, although there is no evidence that massage causes miscarriage, due to the higher chances of having one in the 1st trimester many therapists require you to be in the 2nd trimester just in case.
Blood clots are another concern due to the increased volume and often swelling in the legs. If someone is prone to clotting, the calves and inner thighs are more common areas for one to occur. Consequently, lighter pressure is used as opposed to deep tissue massage as a precautionary measure. Additionally, there are a few areas to avoid during pregnancy to not provoke contractions and to reduce any chance of harm. The ankles, wrists, and hands have pressure points of which a trained therapist should be very mindful of and keep manipulation limited. For example, the fleshy spot of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, known as the Hegu point, is considered unsafe as it may cause uterine contractions.
It’s best to be responsible and understand all the concerns associated with any activity during pregnancy but in most cases receiving a massage can be extremely beneficial to your well-being. Increasing that circulation can help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. The stress reduction can indirectly give you a better night’s sleep and boost the immune system. Furthermore, it can aid in the regulation of hormones to help cure depressive episodes and erratic mood swings. There are many wonderful reasons to make massage an essential part of prenatal care.
What to expect in the massage room will be determined by you and the massage therapist each time you come in for treatment. If you are still sleeping on your stomach or back it is likely that position will work just fine in the early stages. However, as your baby and belly grow, it is best to situate the woman on her side. Therapists will likely perform half the massage on one side and half on the other. The positioning of pillows between the legs is beneficial in keeping the spine straight and long to alleviate pain from lying too long. Due to the inevitable squashing of a woman’s organs during pregnancy, one might request another pillow placement or position that is more comfortable. A good therapist will check in with you but, always communicate if you need to be propped up a bit or could use a slight shift. From there it should be pure relaxation — the hour is yours to be good to your soul.
Darla S. Hoffmann, Licensed Massage Therapist & Aesthetician
A-peeling Faces Skincare & Massage Therapy