Pregnancy can be one of the most stressful phase of your life, be it your first time or not. The stress levels a would-be mother is unexplainable. If you are pregnant, it is important to take good care of yourself to ensure the growing child in you is healthy. Along with proper exercise, medication and happy surroundings, there’s something more you can do to reduce the stress levels, pregnancy massage.
Massages are a great solution for everyone, even a pregnant woman. In this blog, we have discussed everything you should know about pregnancy massage. Read on
What is pregnancy massage?
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is a massage given to pregnant woman to help them feel relaxed, release tension from the muscles, improve blood flow in their body and reduce soreness. The main body parts covered in this kind of massage includes foot, head, back, etc. Pregnancy massages are for the areas of soreness in would-be mothers and can be customized based on the needs of a pregnant woman.
These massages are carried out by trained and certified massage specialists, as there’s a difference in the techniques of a pregnancy massage and regular massage (which you will get to know in the later part of the blog). For example, pregnancy tends to induce stress, weaken ligaments and make them unstable. With proper massage, you can overcome these problems, especially when done by a certified trained who knows the exact spots of soreness during pregnancy and the areas to avoid in the process.
What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?
If this is your first pregnancy, you are probably unaware of the amazing benefits pregnancy massage offers. In case you didn’t go for pregnancy massage during earlier pregnancies, here are some of its benefits that would not make you miss out the amazing relaxation remedy this time.
Expectant mothers have a lot of things going on their minds like health concerns, finances and daily stresses during pregnancy. As per an article of Complementary Theories in Nursing and Midwifery, message therapies for pregnant woman can help to reduce the symptoms of stress, such as increased pulse and tight muscles.
Relieves sore muscles and joint pain
If you feel you have sore muscles and joint pain, getting massages can help in relieving joint paints and make your muscles more flexible.
For many pregnant woman, the increased physical symptoms and worries make it difficult for them to sleep well at night. A study on pregnant woman compared woman who took pregnancy massages and the ones who didn’t. It revealed that the expectant mothers who took massages could sleep better than the ones who didn’t.
You might notice swelling of some body parts during pregnancy that can be considerably reduced with a good pregnancy massage.
The hormonal shifts in a woman’s body during pregnancy lead to increase in the frequency of headaches. Along with the cause of headache (dehydration), massage therapy can relieve headaches.
Pregnant woman know the problems of heartburn. According to some certified trainers and gynecologists, pregnancy massage can help in relieving heartburn as it relaxes your nervous system and reduces stomach pressure.
One of the main benefits of prenatal massage, is it boosts circulation. When you get massage, your body releases more oxygen and nutrients to the baby. And the more oxygen and nutrients the baby receives, the more they will develop and grow.
Prenatal massages reportedly reduce your cortisol, the stress hormones and increase the secretion of endorphins that makes you feel good. You will notice a change in mood s you feel happier and stress-free with regular massages.
Relieves nerve pain
As per a published study in the Acupuncture in Medicine, pregnancy massage can relive nerve pain. As when the muscle loosens up, it causes less pressure on the nerves and thus, less pain.
Makes the process of delivery easier
Though not completely pain-free, but woman who took pregnancy massages experienced easier delivery and shorter labors as compared to the women who didn’t, a published study in the Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed. With massages, you also need less medication throughout the gestation period.
Reduces lower back pain
As a woman’s center of gravity shifts when pregnant, there might be constant lower back pain. Relaxed ligaments and sciatica are also reasons behind lower back pain. But by receiving regular pregnancy massage, you can get relief from these disturbing aches.
Reduces the risk of premature labor
A study reported that in a country like China where complementary medicines and prenatal massages is practiced regularly, there is only 1% rate of premature labor. In America, it is 14%! Pregnancy massage is believed to reduce the risks of premature labor as it decreases the cortisol levels.
What are the precautions to take during a pregnancy massage?
As with any kind of therapeutic approach you want to embrace to kinds of pregnancy wellness, you must discuss with your gynecologist or prenatal care provider. So, it is important to know if there are any risks of prenantal massage and precautions to take.
Your body position during a pregnancy massage
Many certified trainers and prenatal care professionals say that the best position for an expectant mother during massage is lying on her side. There are also tables with holes, curated specially for pregnant woman. However, these tables might fit your growing belly but still put pressure on your abdomen or put it in a dangling position. It can cause uncomfortable stretching of your uterine ligaments. So, it is always recommended to talk to your massage therapist while booking your first appointment. Ask them about the position they ask their client to take during the massage.
Reach out to a certified massage therapist
It is crucial to get the massage from a trained pregnancy massage therapist. The ones who are certified receive training are well-trained in how to address the massage need and specific cases of pregnancy. They know how to position you on the massage table, preventing any pressure on your uterine ligaments. They can also look out for any symptoms of varicose veins and blood clots.
If you have experienced prenatal contractions, bleeding recently or have any of the below-mentioned health conditions, talk to your gynecologist before going for a pregnancy massage:
- PIH (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)
- High-risk pregnancy
- Recently gave birth
- Earlier premature labor
- Severe swelling, sudden and severe headaches, high blood pressure, etc
Can your partner give you a pregnancy massage?
There are cases when the to-be father wants to give massages to the to-be mother. While it is possible and okay to do so, it is also important to talk to your gynecologist about it.
Here are a few tips for your partner while he gives you a massage:
- As the ambiance plays an important role in relaxing mind and body, dim the lighting of the room and put on some aroma candles
- Make sure you are lying in a comfortable position during the massage. You can use pillow for comfort.
- If you are planning to use aromatherapy oil for the massage, make sure it is safe for a pregnant woman and dilute it well.
- Tell them to use gentle strokes on the body because deep movements can induce pressure in the abdomen area.
- Do not forget giving your partner a feedback on the massage as it is important for them to understand what works and what doesn’t work for you.
Is it safe to get pregnancy massages through your pregnancy?
Although there are some reports of prenatal message clinics not providing massages to expectant mothers in their first trimester, there are no strong scientific evidence to support the action. It is still not confirmed if getting pregnancy massage during first trimester can be a reason of miscarriage. So, you can receive pregnancy massage through your pregnancy, but do ask your doctor and massage therapists about it. You can schedule one every 15 days during the first trimester and switch to one every 7 days for the rest of the gestation period.
Can you give a massage to yourself during pregnancy?
Expectant mothers might not have someone around always. So, when they crave for message, there’s no other option but to do it themselves. However, you need to be very cautious while giving yourself a massage as they are areas of your body that are hard to reach. While you can easily reach your arms and feet, but it is not that easy to reach the back and neck properly.
If you want a comfortable belly massage, sit with a couple of soft pillows supporting your back and with your body at 45degree angle. Now use gentle strokes on your belly in upward motion. Apply oil or lotion as required. You can also give yourself a good head massage with a relaxing essential oil. Simply rub some oil on your temples in gentle, circular motions. Trace along the eyebrows and come back to the temples.
When should you avoid a pregnancy massage?
- When you are facing problems like morning sickness, nausea or vomiting.
- If your doctor reports of a high-risk pregnancy, avoid pregnancy massages
- If you are afflicted with preterm labor or placental abruption along with a high-risk pregnancy
What can you expect from pregnancy massage?
After the massage, you will have a relaxed, deep sleep. With the boost in blood circulation and reduced soreness of muscles, you can cope up with the extra weight well. It will make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated for longer period of time.
A pregnancy massage can make you feel more comfortable and at ease. However, it is important to take proper care during the massage. SO, it is better to seek a trained massage therapist for better benefits for you and your baby.
What is the difference between a regular massage and pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is done for the anatomical changes a woman goes through during pregnancy. In a regular message, you will just be lying half of the time on your face-down and for the other half on your back. To the contrary, during a pregnancy massage your therapist will adjust your position, making accommodation for your body shape. You will either be lying on your side or on a table with holes for your growing breasts and belly. There are special cushions used during a pregnancy massage, which you won’t find during a regular massage.
Like in a regular massage, do not expect a deep tissue massage on your legs during pregnancy massage. In a regular massage, you can have deep strokes on your body parts like belly, abdomen, back and neck, but in case of a pregnancy message, deep strokes can put you on risk of various problems. So, gentle pressure is safe for a pregnant woman going for a massage.
Note: Communicate with your therapist on what makes you feel good and what hurts during prenatal massage.
Are foot massages a safe option during pregnancy?
Due to the release of relaxing hormone and that extra weight on your feet during pregnancy, your feet become sore, tired and swollen. Usually, foot massages are safe for an expectant mother and is in fact considered beneficial in relieving painful symptoms like soreness and swelling. However, there are some acupressure points on your foot that can alleviate labor near the feet, so it is better you seek a trained massage therapist in prenatal foot massages.
But if your partner wants to rub your feet, ask him to follow some tips, like:
- Avoid the acupressure points that stimulate labor.
- Use a natural oil or lotion like almond oil, coconut oil or pre-blended massage oil.
- Don’t stand up right after the massage as your feet will be slippery.
In a nutshell
Growing another life inside you is not an easy job and you need to be at peace, both mentally and physically. Getting a pregnancy massage can help you reduce stress levels, lower back pain and make you feel more relaxed and happier. However, make sure you take the advised precautions during a pregnancy massage.