Generally massage is completely safe during pregnancy. However if you are unsure it is always wise to consult with your pre-natal medical provider before booking in with a qualified pregnancy massage specialist.
A qualified pregnancy massage specialist is someone who has had additional training in massage and understands your unique needs in all stages of pregnancy. Your qualified pregnancy massage specialist will want to provide you with the best possible care so as to optimize the outcome of each session. This might mean coordinating your appointments with your medical provider. Although on occasions it may be necessary to book you session in between medical appointments where indicated in consultation with health care providers and your pregnancy massage specialist.
Morning Sickness, fatigue and early pregnancy symptoms can really limit when you might want a massage. However, despite the misconceptions around massage during your first trimester having a massage has many benefits to support and relieve the discomfort you may feel in the early stages of pregnancy.
Massage with a trained pregnancy massage specialist can be a safe practice for mothers-to-be to receive starting anytime in their pregnancy.
Benefits of massage during the first trimester include:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Reduce the sense of fatigue
- Reduce headaches associated with changing hormones
- May help with the physical discomforts of early pregnancy and the changing body as it adapts
Massage can be given as frequently as every week during the first trimester.
During the “Golden” period of pregnancy massage frequency may be decreased to once a month. However, every pregnancy is different and mothers-to-be should listen to the needs of their changing body.
While the second trimester does give a mother-to-be a sense of invigoration as the early symptoms of pregnancy subside and there has been time to adapt to the knowledge that you are pregnant the body is still undergoing changes creating a new list of discomforts. The uterus expands with the growing baby making the belly grow and the organs in the abdomen begin to move to accommodate the uterus as it moves upwards and out of the pelvis. The discomfort associated with physical changes, leg cramps, nasal congestion along with growing anxiety about the pregnancy may be alleviated with massage. Massage in the second trimester helps reduce stress hormones, can relieve leg cramping and alleviate sinus congestion.
Some women choose to continue regular massages weekly, while others opt for fortnightly appointments and those experiencing a “golden” period during the second trimester are able to extend treatments out to every 4 – 6 weeks. The key is to listen to your body, connect with your baby and make appointments to suit how you feel. If you are experiencing difficulties during your pregnancy it is always recommended to follow advice from your health care provider. You can also speak to your Pregnancy Massage Specialist if you are uncomfortable before, during or after a booked pre-natal massage session.
The countdown begins in ernest during the third trimester. You may be feeling physically uncomfortable as you experience swelling, aches and pains associated with postural change thanks to a growing baby and probably you’re not sleeping through the night which contributes to a feeling of fatigue. There is also the likelihood of growing apprehension and expectation as you ready yourself to meet the new addition to your family.
Massage is a fantastic idea at this stage of pregnancy. You will appreciate the relief experienced in your muscles and joints from a full body massage with a qualified pregnancy specialist. A boost in circulation from appropriate massage and movement can reduce swelling. Massage will help release all the feel-good hormones leading to feelings of relaxation, a better night’s sleep and readying your body for labour.
Many women opt for weekly treatments from 36 weeks to support relieve of discomfort and to prepare for labour. Although massage with an appropriately qualified practitioner at any time in the third trimester will be beneficial.
Additional treatments in the third trimester include acupuncture and shiatsu for breech presentation (from 32 weeks with medical approval) and labour initiation (from 39 weeks for labour support acupuncture and 37 weeks with medical approval for shiatsu initiation massage).
Body Position during Pregnancy Massage
When you work with a qualified pregnancy specialist you can trust that you will be positioned safely to ensure the maximum benefit of a treatment.
The position that you lie while you are being massaged will depend on what stage of pregnancy you are in at the time of your treatment, how you are feeling at the time of the massage and what you wish to achieve during your session.
The most common positions for pregnancy are:
- Prone (face-down) and Supine (on your back) – prior to 16 weeks only
- Side Lying
- All Fours / on the floor over a pregnancy ball (often done for specific massage techniques particularly for labour preparation and education)
Medical advice suggests that side lying maximizes placental circulation while minimizing strain on the uterine ligaments and musculoskeletal structures. It also prevents increased intrauterine pressure, increased sinus pressure and can support mother-child bonding.
Your qualified pregnancy specialist will be trained in the best possible position for your massage at any stage of your pregnancy.
What to look for in a Pregnancy Massage Specialist
- Formal Training in Pregnancy Massage
- Communicates understanding and is confident in dealing with the changing nature of pregnancy
- Discusses your individual pregnancy and conduct a pre-natal massage consultation, checking relevant details pertaining to your pregnancy
- Massage room is appropriately set up to support the changes and discomforts of your pregnancy
- Treatment should be suited for your individual pregnancy and the practitioner should discuss the treatment plan prior to the session. Any changes from the treatment plan should be communicated during the session
- A qualified pregnancy massage specialist may give you tips on posture to help reduce onset of muscle and joint pain and information on general health in pregnancy