We already know massage is therapeutic, that it reduces stress, improves cardiovascular health, boosts the immune system, and relieves pain and so on. But what about prenatal massage? Are there benefits (or potential risks) to consider?
The answer is yes, and… yes.
Pregnancy is often accompanied by some level of stress, not only emotionally but the physical stress on the body is something to consider as well. Studies have shown massage therapy can have a wonderful effect on expectant mothers, including ease of back and leg pain, lower anxiety levels, more restful sleep, increase levels of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) and a decreased level of the stress hormone, norepinephrine.
On the other hand there are risks to consider when going for a prenatal massage, mainly that the person giving you the massage should be trained and certified specifically for massaging pregnant women.
In order to help you understand what the dos and don’ts of prenatal massage we’ve gathered a list of 5 basic rules for prenatal massage:
1. Go with your instincts.
This is the first and one of the most important thing to keep in mind. If anything doesn’t feel right, stop immediately. If you feel faint, dizzy, pain, or just “not right,” tell your massage practitioner to stop. Always, always, better safe than sorry.
2. Drink before and after.
Massages can be dehydrating, and since pregnant women’s needs for fluids are higher than non-pregnant women’s, be even more diligent about having that bottle of water by your side.
3. Only lightly touch the belly.
There’s a baby in there, so even if you have abdominal needs for massage, it’s best to not have deep tissue techniques used on the uterine areas. Swedish massage techniques, otherwise known as effleurage, or light, more topical movements, are fine though.
4. Avoid deep penetration on singular points.
Acupressure points can cause contractions, therefore it’s imperative to avoid pressing down hard on any one point. This means shiatsu massage is out, as is any massage which uses acupressure points. Of note, reflexology (which is not massage anyway) is forbidden during pregnancy. Unless you are going for an induction massage (see point #4), you certainly don’t want to risk contractions before your baby is truly ready to be born.
5. Induction massages from week 40 or 41 only.
While many women find the last few weeks of pregnancy particular harrowing, the baby is usually staying in for good reason. Trying to rush the birth will likely backfire – at best nothing will happen, and at worst, you might have contractions which lead to nothing and are just annoying/painful. So, if you are interested in a natural induction, be utmost certain about your dates, and order an induction massage only from week 40 if not 41.
Wishing you a healthy pregnancy and birth from all of us at Sky and Sea Spa!