What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage often incorporates a range of techniques such as Lymphatic drainage massage and Swedish massage techniques. This is because of its particular benefits in reducing muscle tension and improving blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
Some therapists use aromatherapy oils and burn incense to heighten the relaxation experience. There is however, a range of oils, which should be avoided as they can prompt uterine contractions: oregano, peppermint, thyme, basil, sage and rosemary.
You may prefer the massage therapist uses non-scented or very low scented oils.
How much skin you expose during your massage is entirely up to you. Some women are comfortable wearing very little clothing; others want to feel more covered. It is worth bearing in mind though, for you to get the most benefit from your massage, the therapist needs to be able to access as much of your skin surface area as possible.
Ante-Natal massage differs from general massage because there can be some risks if particular pressure points are stimulated. These are located within your wrists and ankles and massaging them can stimulate the uterus to start contracting. There also needs to be a level of sensitivity and gentleness extended by the therapist, which factors in the baby as well.
What if I can’t lie down?
Equipment required for pregnancy massage can be a little different to the standard issue. Body position during prenatal massage is important in order to maximise the effectiveness of the massage and to fully gain its benefits. Many health and massage professionals recommend a side-lying position for pregnant women during massage.
Current research supports the use of standard massage tables, rather than those which have a hole cut out in them to accommodate the pregnant belly. “Cut outs” can allow the abdomen to dangle unsupported and cause stretching of the uterine ligaments. However if cut out tables or pillows are used, these should not be utilised for extended periods of time e.g. 10-15 minutes is the maximum recommended timeframe..
Lying on your back is not recommended past the first trimester so your positioning will be restricted to your tummy or your side. The massage therapist should have a range of pillows to support your belly and avoid extra muscular strain.
Who does pregnancy massage?
Check that your therapist is fully qualified and insured to practice pregnancy massage.
What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?
- When done effectively, has been proven to reduce stress hormones within a pregnant woman’s body. It also increases the levels of hormones which tend to be low in women who are depressed.
- It leads to a reduction in anxiety and free floating concerns. There is often an improvement in general mood following a massage.
- Pregnant women often find a massage rejuvenates their energy because it gives them an opportunity to rest and completely relax.
- For some pregnant women, massage can relieve nausea and heartburn. In others, it can make these worse though.
- Relieves the everyday discomforts of pregnancy such as an aching neck, sore back, and heaviness in the pelvic bones, leg cramps, swelling of the ankles and feet and oedema (fluid retention).
- Leads to muscle relaxation and relief of joint pain. Pregnancy massage can be particularly helpful for women who experience sciatic nerve pain.
- Builds a feeling a sense of connectedness with another person as well as building a rapport. Many pregnant women experience a change in their intimate relationship with their partner and suffer from being “touch deprived”.
- Pregnancy massage may improve the progression of labour with better health outcomes for both the mother and her baby. More relaxed mothers tend to have a lower risk of interventions during labour and birth.
- Pregnancy massage can provide an opportunity for women to completely stop what they are doing and focus on the pleasure of having someone else do something just for them.
- Improved sleep due to feeling less muscle tension and generally less uncomfortable.
When to avoid having a pregnancy massage:
- If your midwife or doctor have advised you against it.
- Some massage therapists have a policy of not doing pregnancy massages within the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. This is because of the increased risk for miscarriage in the first 12 weeks of gestation.
- If you are in a high risk pregnancy category or have previously had a premature labour.
- If you have Pregnancy Induced Hypertension e.g. high blood pressure.
- If you have pre-eclampsia, or sudden swelling with retention of fluid. If you experience severe headaches.
- If having a pregnancy massage causes you to feel sick, lightheaded, gives you a headache or you don’t enjoy the experience. Don’t feel as if you have to do it just because others feel it’s a good idea. Some women genuinely don’t like being touched and find massages an intrusion of their privacy.
- If you feel the massage therapist is being too vigorous you need to say so. Ask them to be a little gentler and keep the lines of communication open between you both. This is what is termed a therapeutic relationship and it needs to be working for you both in order to gain maximum benefit.