Prenatal massage is a great way at reducing stress and increasing the health of the mother-to-be. It can ease the discomfort of the pregnancy experience and make it one that is filled with the delight and mystery that it is. It’s important to know the benefits and risks of prenatal massage.
Prenatal massage is designed to relieve the discomfort and stress of pregnancy while making special adjustments to a normal massage treatment because of the changes pregnancy makes in the body. Prenatal massage therapists are specially trained not only in the techniques of prenatal massage, but also to recognize signs of prenatal disorders, such as preeclampsia, that can endanger the mother or child. It is important to find a therapist who has the experience and expertise to know what to do and what not to do for the prenatal client.
The type of massage you receive depends upon the stage a client is in during their pregnancy.
In the early stages, prenatal massage is very like a regular Swedish massage, except that the massage therapist will avoid sensitive areas of the body and will check for excessive swelling or other danger signs.
In later stages of pregnancy, the massage is given with the mother-to-be lying on her side, with bolsters, pillows and cushions supporting the legs and belly for comfort. Some tables and bolsters are specially designed for prenatal massage so the mother-to-be can lie comfortably on her stomach. A trained prenatal therapist has access to these tools.
In addition to the normal benefits of massage, prenatal massage has a number of benefits for mothers-to-be:
- Reduces stress levels
- Eases back and foot pain caused by changes in posture
- Reduces swelling of feet and ankles
- Improves skin elasticity, reducing stretch marks
- Improves sleep
- Improves digestion
- Relaxes and soothes baby
- Reduces pelvic pain
Additionally, a prenatal massage therapist can frequently recognize early signs of dangerous complications, reducing the risk to both mother and child.
Risks of Prenatal Massage are relatively few and some of these risks that are talked about can be misconceptions. The real risks are:
- Dizziness and nausea
- Untrained therapists causing injury
- Too deep massage of back or abdomen causing spotting or cramping
- Inducing labor
- Creating, instead of relieving, muscle soreness
For the most part all of these side effects can be avoided, as long as the therapist knows what he or she is doing. Nausea and dizziness can occur after any massage, and are not uncommon during pregnancy. Avoid eating immediately before a massage, and get up carefully to avoid problems. Muscle soreness is generally the result of not getting enough fluid after a massage. Drink a lot of water in the first two hours after a massage to prevent this.
The biggest misconception is that massage in the first trimester can cause a miscarriage. Miscarriages in the first trimester are unfortunately too common, but there is no evidence that any miscarriage has ever been caused by massage or reflexology.
A mother-to-be can get prenatal massage at any point during a healthy pregnancy. In a high risk pregnancy, or when there are medical complications it’s a good idea to talk to both your obstetrician and a prenatal massage therapist.
The risks and side effects of prenatal massage can be avoided with the care of a trained professional and the benefits of massage are so great for the mother-to-be. Prenatal massage is a wonderful way for a mother-to-be to ease the discomforts of pregnancy, decrease stress and enhance the wellness of both mom & baby.