Written by: Jenny Smith
Lots of people may think that massage during pregnancy is best avoided but in actual fact many practitioners believe it to be one of the best times for a woman to have a treatment.Pregnancy massage is a general term for any hands on massage during or after pregnancy (pre or post natal) and can be given at any time, although lots of practitioners avoid working with pregnant women during the first trimester to avoid any possible connection to miscarriage and some doctors also hesitate to recommend it as a useful support during this time because of similar concerns. However if you feel that it is something that would benefit you there are lots of experienced parishioners that are very happy to support you.
Pregnancy massage specialists
Some massage therapists specialise in pregnancy massage and those experienced will make adjustments to their tables by using a specially designed massage couch or by using a combination of bolsters and cushions. It is also common practice to massage you lying on the side which can be extremely comfortable and allows great access to the whole back which is an area of the body that obviously can feel the strain of carrying extra weight.
Massage is a generic term for stroking, kneading and pressing different areas of the body to relieve pain and there are over eighty different types of massage taught at colleges and training centres ranging from deep tissue massage to Swedish massage to shiatsu which uses the pressure points of acupuncture. All of these treatments can be adapted to respond to the changes that a woman’s body goes through in pregnancy. One example is that blood volume increases dramatically, sometimes up to 50% and blood flow to the legs often becomes sluggish increasing the risk of blood clots. To minimise risk massage practitioners will only use light pressure and strokes on the legs, avoiding deep tissue work or pressure. Some practitioners will avoid all contact with the abdomen however if the woman would like contact here then many practitioners are very happy to again use light strokes and holds.
Generally massage has a high number of benefits including lowering anxiety levels, reducing muscle pain in back and legs, improving relaxation and sleep, reducing stress hormones and increasing feel-good hormones in the body and generally raising mood. It’s also great for a woman to feel that she is having some healing physical attention during her time of looking after a developing baby, and over time a supportive and trusting relationship can grow between her and the massage therapist.
Although practitioners do not have to have a specialist pregnancy massage qualification there are specialist courses available. Generic trainings vary as to how much detail they will cover on pregnancy massage so it is definitely worth asking any practitioner what their training and experience of working with pregnant women is. It is very important that you see someone who is confident in working with you and who ideally has lots of experience with other women.
One area to be very careful about is aromatherapy massage. This is where the practitioner uses a mix of essential oils blended into a carrier oil to massage your skin. Some of these oils are very powerful and known to induce labour so should be avoided completely. This again is something to talk through with the therapist about.