Prenatal Pregnancy Massage

What is a prenatal massage?

Prenatal massages are adapted for the bodily changes you go through during pregnancy. In a traditional massage, you might spend half the time lying face-down on your stomach and half the time facing up, which neither are ideal when carrying a baby. As your shape and posture changes, a massage therapist will make accommodations with special cushioning systems or holes that allow you to lie face down safely, while providing room for your growing belly, or you might lie on your side with the support of pillows and cushions. 

Precautions

Prenatal massages are generally considered safe after the first trimester, as long as you get the green light from your practitioner and you let your massage therapist know you’re pregnant. As always, if you’re unsure, please speak with your MD prior to treatments. 

Despite myths you might have heard, there are no specific pressure points that will disrupt your pregnancy, and there isn’t much solid scientific proof that specific types of massage can have any particular effect one way or the other. Some massage therapists avoid certain pressure points, including the one between the anklebone and heel, because of concern that it may trigger contractions, but the evidence on whether massage actually can kickstart labor is inconclusive, and basically non-existent.

Deep tissue work on the legs during a prenatal massage is not something that’s recommended. While gentle pressure is safe, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to blood clots, which deep massage work can dislodge. That, in turn, can be risky. On other body parts, the pressure can be firm and as deep or as gentle as you’d like. Always communicate with your therapist about what feels good — and if something starts to feel uncomfortable.

What are the benefits of prenatal massage?

There are many benefits to getting regular massage throughout your pregnancy. Research shows that massage can reduce stress hormones in your body and relax and loosen your muscles. It can keep your lymphatic system working at peak efficiency, also increase blood flow, which is so important when you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, regular prenatal massages may not only help you relax, but may also relieve:

  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Neck and back pain
  • Leg cramping
  • Sciatica
  • Swelling in your hands and feet 
  • Carpal tunnel pain
  • Headaches and sinus congestion

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