A prenatal massage comes with many benefits. It boosts circulation, relaxes tense muscles, and reduces swelling. In other words, it’s just what pregnant women need. But while a prenatal massage can feel like heaven, it is not the same as a regular massage. Before you book that appointment, here’s what you need to know:
What Is A Prenatal Massage?
Prenatal massages are rooted in Swedish massage techniques, and it’s adapted for the anatomical changes you go through during pregnancy.
During a regular massage, you would spend half the time lying on your stomach. Thanks to your baby bump, this will obviously not be possible. The other half of the time, you’d lay on your back. When you’re pregnant, laying on your back should also be avoided because this puts pressure on a major blood vessel, which can disrupt blood flow to your baby and leave you feeling nauseous.
There are tables that are hollowed out to fit your growing pregnant belly. These might look cool, but they may strain your back and squeeze your lower abdomen. Instead of these, experts recommend that expectant mommies lie on their sides. For support, they can use pillows or a folded-up towel.
Is It Safe To Get A Pregnancy Massage?
Before you book your appointment, you do need to check with your doctor/ practitioner. In fact, many massage therapists may ask if you have been cleared by your doctor before they will see you.
Prenatal massages may be risky:
- During the first trimester. A prenatal massage during the first few weeks should be avoided because it may trigger dizziness and add to morning sickness. Prenatal massages are generally considered safe after the first trimester;
- If you have complications like preeclampsia, high blood pressure, fever, diabetes, morning sickness, a contagious virus, abdominal pain, or bleeding.
- If you lie on your back during your massage. After your fourth month of pregnancy, the weight of your uterus and your baby can compress blood vessels and reduce circulation to your placenta. It should therefore be avoided.
- If you do a deep tissue massage. Qualified therapists will avoid deep tissue work because pregnant women are particularly susceptible to blood clots. Deep tissue massage could dislodge blood clots, which is risky.
What Are The Benefits Of A Prenatal Massage?
Once you are cleared by your doctor, book an appointment because there are many benefits to prenatal massages. It can:
- Decrease stress hormones in your body;
- Lower your anxiety;
- Relax and loosen your muscles;
- Decreased back and leg pain;
- Increase blood flow. This helps to keep your lymphatic system working at peak efficiency;
- Improve your sleep;
Other benefits of regular prenatal massages are that they can relieve:
- Joint pain
- Neck and back pain
- Swelling in your hands and feet
- Leg cramping
- Carpal tunnel pain
- Headaches and sinus congestion
In a study of prenatal massage for women suffering from depression, researchers discovered:
- An overall improvement in their moods;
- Increased levels of serotonin and dopamine (which are”feel-good” hormones); and
- A decreased level of cortisol. (Cortisol is an indicator of stress).
If it is safely done, there are clearly many prenatal massage benefits.
Professional Prenatal Massage
To really reap the benefits of a prenatal massage, get it professionally done.
While any massage therapist can work on pregnant women, you’d be best advised to go with someone who has had a minimum of 16 hours of advanced training in maternal massage—make sure to ask when you make the 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 pregnant body.
To make an appointment, browse the American Massage Therapy Association’s online database. Here you will be able to find a certified practitioner near you.
Once your doctor has cleared you, your massage therapist will likely focus on:
- your lower back;
- your feet;
- your calves – they may be tired from balancing those outward turned hips; and
- your upper back, which may be sore from supporting your new bra size.
The pressure can be firm and as deep or as gentle as you’d like. (Be sure to always tell your therapist if something starts to hurt or feel uncomfortable.)
How To Get A Pregnancy Massage At Home?
If you are doing a skin-to-skin massage, you will need lotion or preferably massage oils for smoother strokes.
Here are a few prenatal massage techniques you can try:
Back Rub On Chair
To get an at-home prenatal massage, you will need a pillow, a chair that you can comfortably straddle backward, and someone helpful who will massage your tired body.
Here are a few simple instructions to follow for an at-home prenatal massage:
- Place a pillow on the chair. Straddle the chair backward;
- Lean into the chair, with the pillow cushioning your belly;
Here’s how to get those key muscles in the lower back:
- Whoever is helping you should use soft fists to lightly press on either side of your spine. This should be just above the hipbones, and not directly on the spine;
- Rotate both hands in slow circles;
- Move outward a few inches. Continue with a bit of pressure from the sides.
Back Rub While Laying On Your Side
- Lay on your side;
- Using both hands, your friend/ partner should stroke up and down your back, focusing on the muscles on either side of the spine;
- Moving up and down, transition to kneading the muscles with their thumbs or the base of the hand.
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