PREGNANCY MASSAGE–During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling, and relieving muscle and joint pain. Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. We advise pregnant clients to refrain from eating a meal for about 2 hours before a massage if possible. This is especially important later in the pregnancy.
Using specifically designed massage pillows, the massage therapist utilizes the sidelying position to ensure the safety of the fetus. We also utilize a 2-1/2 ft. incline cushion when mom is lying on her back to prevent the fetus from pressing on mom’s major blood vessels (i.e. iliac arteries and vena cava).
The First Trimester is Week 1-12. Massage is not recommended during this period for a variety of reasons:
- general health complications and risk of possible miscarriage.
- massage increases core temperature which could be critical to the embryo.
- massage can cause nausea, fatigue, and dizziness during this period.
- there are many excess toxins released into the bloodstream affecting the embryo.
- massage stimulates blood flow and can increase blood pressure issues.
If you do request a massage during week 1-14 please provide a written release for massage from the client’s physician; after all, we do not know the specific attributes of that pregnancy, the clients entire medical history or how complications might interact with that person’s pregnancy.
One medical study found that pregnant women who received massage over a 5-week period had:
- decreased uterine stress hormone levels.
- experienced fewer labor complications.
- Their infants had fewer post-delivery problems
- fewer infants were born prematurely (Field 2001; Field et al., 1999)
Major massage benefits during 2nd & 3rd trimesters include:
- Greater energy, less fatigue
- Muscle relaxation
- Less back and leg pain
- Better sleep, less insomnia
- General relaxation, stress reduction
- Improved mood
- Less anxiety and depression
In the normal pregnancy, the 2nd trimester is the safest and easiest part. Massage relaxes muscles that have begun to tighten and possibly spasm. Gentle stroking of the abdomen is permissible at this point. Attention to lower back muscles and along the muscle attachments on the iliac crest with circular friction and fingertip kneading can help relieve tightness there.
In the 3rd trimester discomfort increases as the fetus gains weight and the mom’s body prepares for delivery. Massage session focus on comfort and relaxation.