Prenatal Massage Facts
What Every Expectant Mother Needs to Know
For thousands of years, cultures across the globe have utilized massage to improve health and overall wellness with amazing results. In fact, many of the same techniques used centuries ago are still quite similar or identical to those performed today. Despite huge advancements in medical technology, healing touch is still considered to be an effective, safe, and affordable method of prevention and treatment for numerous ailments and conditions.
One of the most popular reasons why our SPA LUX clients come to see us is for relief of symptoms and bodily changes associated with pregnancy. Consequently, many women ask our staff very legitimate questions about this type of massage. Examples include whether or not they should undergo a massage while pregnant, what trimester it becomes safe to do so, what type of massage to consider, and where to go to get one done.
Because our employees have heard several of these common queries regarding prenatal massage in the past, I wanted to put a few things into perspective and answer them accordingly. Hopefully, this will help many women make the right decision when it comes to going for a massage during pregnancy.
Finding a Suitable Massage Therapist
The first thing you need to do when considering a prenatal massage, whether you come see us at SPA LUX or not, is to find a suitable massage therapist. There are actually quite a few places in the Tulsa metro area that offer this type of service—not only just medical centers and day spas, but even some nail salons sometimes offer massage for pregnant women. However, it is important to be choosy as to where you go for your appointment, as a lot of harm can happen to mother and baby when a massage is done incorrectly.
I would like to emphasize the need to work with only reputable establishments. To put it simply, this is not the time to shop around and find those who can do it for less. Never under any circumstance is it recommended to get a massage from an unlicensed person! Although a recommendation from a friend or relative can be a good thing most of the time, an unlicensed therapist may simply ignore important safety guidelines, putting both mother and unborn child in real danger.
In addition to only utilizing educated massage professionals, it is also recommended to consult with the physician or midwife in charge of your care to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for massage therapy. Yes, this extra step does take a little bit of extra time and effort. But, in the end, your safety should always be the top priority.
What to Expect During Your Prenatal Massage Appointment
Once you’ve found a licensed therapist who is skilled in prenatal massage and have the clearance of your doctor, you can proceed on to your actual appointment. However, it is important to remember that prenatal massage techniques are significantly different than classic massage. These techniques are specifically designed for the mothers-to-be in order to safely increase blood circulation, alleviate pain in legs and back, reduce stress in joints and spine, decrease fatigue, relax, and improve their mood. In some cases, a prenatal massage can even help condition the body for the delivery room.
During your massage with a professional therapist, you should expect them to work on your legs, neck, shoulders, back, and arms. Back and neck massage techniques are designed to reduce stress on your spine due to the enlargement of the breasts and stomach during gestation. Leg and arm massage will increase blood circulation in all of the major organs and various other parts of the body. In the third trimester, your massage therapist may even provide advice on breathing and calming techniques for inside the delivery room.
One of the most important factors of a successful prenatal massage is the positioning of the body. It’s here that we need to address one of the biggest fallacies about prenatal massage. Some people have heard about special massage tables with cut-outs for the stomach. Those simply do not work and put far too much pressure on the growing fetus. To be frank, this can cause more danger and discomfort than benefits. Thus, we do not recommend using them.
We believe that during the massage, nothing should be causing discomfort or prevent deep relaxation. It has been recognized by overwhelming number of therapists around the world that the best position for a pregnancy massage is either laying on the side, sitting, or a position that lies somewhere in between if there is a special reclining massage table. In addition, there are some variations for the legs that can be achieved with pillows and blankets. A therapist may position a client on their back for a short time as an intermission during the massage, as well. But, generally, only laying on the side position is recommended.
All movements during a prenatal massage should be smooth and applied with relatively light pressure. Soft and slow stroking is all a professional massage therapist will do. Deep penetration into the tissue, vibration, or striking are absolutely out of the question. If you encounter this type of touch during a prenatal massage, it is important to stop the session immediately.
Again, we need to reiterate the importance of working with a therapist that is trained in prenatal massage. The reason why is that the female body has a number of specific zones that can trigger a loss when improperly massaged. For example, massage of the thumbs, Achilles tendons, and/or tailbone may cause a bodily response resulting in miscarriage. This is what makes it so crucial to select a trained therapist that is aware of these zones and knows how to avoid them during the massage.
Also, it is important to note that massage is not recommended during the first trimester due to high sensitivity and responsiveness of the body during this time. Although, our experienced SPA LUX team does recommend light stroking of the stomach, neck, hands, and shoulders—which we recommend our clients do themselves with extra care at home. Not only can this help relax the mother, it also offers a positive effect on the baby. (Hint: This can also be a wonderful way to connect with your partner!) Usually, massage in the second and third trimesters is deemed a safe time period for mother and baby.
Another question we often get is whether or not it is safe to massage the stomach area during pregnancy. The answer is that it is safe. However, our therapists will not do it for you. This type of massage needs to be done by the woman herself. This will give her very important means of “communicating” with the baby. Naturally, all strokes need to be smooth and slow.
I should also note also that during pregnancy it is simply dangerous to use any massaging or other electrical devices. You can massage certain areas of your body with your own hands, but do not use any devices that create vibration or electrical current in your body.
Contraindications to Consider When Booking a Prenatal Massage
Of course, as with any medical treatment there is the potential for side effects and symptoms that rule out the safety of getting a prenatal massage. A few conditions that generally would be considered as absolute or partial contraindications include:
- Excessive or Acute Back Pain
- High or Unstable Blood Pressure
- Any Active and Acute Infections
- Severe Chronic Conditions
- Varicose Veins (Can Be Considered Only a Partial Contraindication with Lighter Pressure)
- Transmittable Deceases via Secretions, Bodily Discharge, or Airborne Pathogens
- Skin conditions (i.e. Burnt Skin, Plantar Warts, etc.)
- Hemorrhagic Alterations
- Phlebitis and Thrombosis
- Propensity to Bruise (Can Be Considered Only a Partial Contraindication with Lighter Pressure)
- Asthma (Unless Under Control of Symptoms)
- Excessive Fluid Retention (i.e. Edema)
- Open Wounds
- Excessive Morning Sickness
If any of the above health problems exist, it is extra important to seek advice from a medical professional before scheduling a massage. If it is a partial contraindication, massage can be done usually avoiding the affected area or if you have been given an approval by your midwife or physician.
Moreover, listen to your intuition. If you don’t believe that you have any of these conditions, but are unsure about the overall process of massage, don’t feel pressured into doing it. Knowing your body and what you feel comfortable with is important and will help keep the baby safe. In fact, even if you’ve already started a massage and feel as though the therapist is treating you in an unpleasant or hurtful manner, you should request to stop the procedure immediately.
Final Note to Remember About Prenatal Massage
As a final note, it is important to remember that a prenatal massage is designed to be a time for you to relax before your new bundle of joy arrives. It can also be a great way to help condition the body before the delivery process. However, the key takeaway here is to work only with a licensed massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage techniques, as failure to do so could put you and the baby at risk.
Still have questions about prenatal massage or want to schedule an appointment? Give our knowledgeable and professional SPA LUX team a call at 918-615-3339.