Massage is certainly one of the best ways you can indulge yourself, but did you know that massage is especially helpful for pregnant women?
During pregnancy, mothers-to-be experience dramatic changes that can cause discomfort and exhaustion. Think about it. You are carrying a baby inside you for several months. This alone creates tension on your back, neck and shoulders. Add to this the sore ankles. And not to mention the mental fatigue!
Preparing for motherhood is truly life-changing, but it doesn’t have to be hard all the time.
Pregnancy massage is one easy way to relieve you of physical and mental stress. It’s a therapeutic technique designed to ease muscles and joints, improve circulation and help expectant women feel good about their changing bodies.
It’s not so different from other types of therapeutic massage, in that both are for relaxation. But for pregnancy massage, it’s all about customizing massage strokes and techniques to suit pregnant women’s needs.
Pregnancy Massage: Amazing Benefits
Massage therapy has been proven to bring a lot of benefits during pregnancy. Such benefits include:
- Relieves muscle and joint pains
In a 2010 study, it was found that pregnant women who received massage therapy for about 20 minutes per week for 5 weeks experienced relief from upper and lower back pains, leg cramps and hip joint pains that are commonly experienced during pregnancy.
- Boosts immunity for mother and baby
Massage improves blood circulation, which enables oxygen and nutrients to be distributed throughout the body, while toxins are flushed away.
For pregnant women, this means both mother and fetus receive nutrients needed for health, while the immune system is strengthened.
- Helps maintain good posture
During pregnancy, your body changes alignment. Whether it’s a small or a huge baby bump, the extra weight from the baby changes your centre of gravity.
Regular massage increases muscle flexibility, which can enhance your posture and overall ability to carry that additional weight while keeping your legs and back strong.
- Improves relaxation and sleeping habits
You know one of those ‘happy hormones’, endorphins? During pregnancy massage, the body releases endorphins that help the mother stay relaxed and at ease.
This is also linked to better sleep quality, which is important for both mum and baby.
- Lowers likelihood of prematurity
Stress is a big no-no for pregnant women, because when the stress hormone cortisol is released, it could give a signal to birth the baby even when it’s not yet full term.
Studies have found that pregnancy massage is effective in lowering anxiety and depression in expectant women, lowering the risk of premature birth.
- Lessens labour pains
In one study, women who were already in labour were massaged on their back and legs during the first 15 minutes of their labour phases. The result was astounding: those who were massaged experienced less pain during the first two phases of labour.
What’s more, their labours were 3 hours shorter compared to women who were not massaged.
Is Pregnancy Massage Safe?
Specialists and massage therapists alike recommend that pregnancy massage shouldn’t be started until after the first trimester. Why? Because during the first trimester, there’s a much higher risk for miscarriage.
While pregnancy massage has never been proven to cause a miscarriage, the likelihood of miscarrying is always bigger during the first few months of pregnancy.
So, just to be safe and avoid any risks, doctors and therapists counsel against first trimester massage for pregnant women.
Most massage therapists want clearance from your doctor before providing any treatment anyway, so it’s best to consult with your obstetrician or midwife first before getting a pregnancy massage. They may also be able to recommend a practitioner for you.
Pregnancy Massage: How Do I Lie Down?
When it comes to pregnancy massage, body positioning is a bit different. Your baby bump is in the way, so you won’t be comfortable lying facedown. But lying on your back is also not recommended, especially after the first trimester, as it strains your back and legs.
The best position for pregnancy massage is to lie on your side while propped by cushions. You can also be massaged while in a sitting position, supported by an upright massage bed.
Therapists have a range of foam cut-outs and pillows to support your belly and ease any muscular strain.
In case you feel unstable on the massage table, tell your therapist right away so that the two of you can decide on a comfortable position for the massage.
Pregnancy Massage Techniques
Pregnancy massage experts generally use light and slow strokes that encourage blood circulation and body relaxation.
These are based on Swedish massage techniques that involve stroking, gliding, rubbing and tapping, pregnancy massage has particular benefits in reducing muscle stress and improving blood flow.
Hard pressure massage is not ideal for pregnant women. Hence, techniques like deep tissue, shiatsu, deep acupressure and the like are avoided during this time.
Tips for Getting the Right Pregnancy Massage
- Ask your doctor or midwife if you are OK to get pregnancy massage.
- Inform your therapist where on your body you feel discomfort or pain, and what activities you think worsen the pain. Be specific. It’s better if you can vividly describe the pain, e.g., does it feel like a dull ache when you walk, or a stabbing pain?
- Don’t forget to tell your massage therapist how far along you are and when your due date is.
- Talk to your therapist about your positioning during massage and what type of massage they will provide. Keep in mind that Swedish massage is usually ideal for expectant women.
Ready To Try Pregnancy Massage?
We at Ministry Of Beauty have started offering pregnancy massages 🙂
Take a look at our massages page for more info or call us at 0117 973 33 64 for more info!