Prenatal Massage: Benefits, Recommendations and Myths
10/05/2019 - Albert Sola Renart
In this occasion we are going to talk about the effectivity and benefits of massage during pregnancy. General recommendations, misconceptions and tips.
It is proven that a baby, after birth, gains weight and a strong immune system faster when they have more physical contact. Holding, carrying, cuddles and massages are always a nourishing gift towards your own baby. During pregnancy mother and baby are "one" and all the self-love that the mother can receive is so welcome as well by the baby. Stress, hormonal changes, structural changes and emotional flows can cause a variety of physical and psychosomatic symptoms to the mother that we could list.
Massage relieves many of the usual discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (swelling). In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, soothes the nervous system, aids in better sleep and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
- Check with your GP whether it's safe for you to get a prenatal massage.
- Wait until the 2nd trimester (after week 12) to book any bodywork.
- "Safe" from week 12 until childbirth.
- Don't go for a massage with an empty stomach nor too full!
- Ask your therapist about their expertise/experience in prenatal massages and ask him/her about the session protocol. No trigger points, pressure points or strong reflexology strokes around ankles!
- Choose a venue that has a prenatal table, for your comfort.
- TREAT YOURSELF AND ENJOY! Your well-being is a top priority.
- Massage can cause miscarriage.
There is no correlation between massage and miscarriage. In the first 12 weeks, the risk of miscarriage is high for all women. This is why the policy of many massage associations, therapy centers and spa's coincide in staying out of the "danger" zone. It has happened that some mothers with a toxic life with excesses of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, prior or during pregnancy, has then concluded in a miscarriage due to a "Detox" process happening naturally, which would be potentially increased by massage. Check with your doctor about your default and current risks, when it comes to receive a massage.
- Deep pressure is dangerous and can cause miscarriage.
Deep tissue strokes are totally fine with the mother and the baby, it is highly appreciated by the mother when done with precision, confidence and safety. Some pressure/trigger points, otherwise, can induce labor. This can be miraculous upon request in the last week or after due date of the pregnancy, to relax the mother's pelvis and deeper structures. It is safe to do little static pressures, yet avoided by Prenatal massage therapists. When the pressure of a point is held for 1 minute or more, then the "acupressure effect" takes place. So whether your therapist or partner is massaging your feet, consider this about the pressure and be aware of your boundaries. Let other people know!
It is not safe to have the mother laying on her front, face down.
While it is not safe to massage a pregnant lady on their back (specially at the end of the pregnancy) because it may compress the inferiior vena cava and potentially harm the mother and starve the baby from oxygen, there is no evidence to support the myth that women can't be massaged prone (face down) when supported by pregnancy cushions, bolsters, pillows or using a speciall treatment table as long as the client rests comfortable and feeling safe and supported. Best choice for the mother's comfort isn't side laying normally but laying prone on a special treatment table with the "belly hole" and support net adjusted to their belly size and lumbar curve.
As a general tip it is of great benefit and importance that the mother is in a healthy state before getting pregnant, in order to have a body ready to start a journey. Most of mothers in the Netherlands for example do take good care but some of my clients come to me in the last few weeks of their pregnancy, when the baby is almost fully developed and all important biochemical changes and development has already occurred. Some of these mothers come with a lot of stress, tension in the body, and a very tight agenda, just stopped working 2 weeks before due date and 2 weeks isn't a lot. Ideally, a woman that wants to get pregnant gets out of sedentarism before pregnancy, getting fit, maybe doing Pilates, Yoga or other movement therapies that they enjoy, they prepare as well their pelvic floor doing Hypopressives, have their stress levels under control, a good level of energy and a healthy psycho-social life with support structures. That is my ideal client, someone responsible for their health and life. What can we do for you? Prenatal massages during pregnancy? YES! Some Hypopressive exercise training sessions to have a healthy pelvic floor, before and after pregnancy? YES! Structural Bodywork before and after pregnancy? The structure of the body changes a lot during pregnancy and Structural Integration is a great tool to re-connect with your own body. Register and book your session here.