Are you expecting a little bundle of joy? Is your BFF pregnant with her third child while you just find yourself routinely pregnant with a food baby? (I mean, who hasn’t been pregnant with a food baby at some point, am I right?!). Lets talk about why prenatal massage can be supremely beneficial for an expectant mother (or why you can score major points by gifting a prenatal massage to someone).
First: a disclaimer!
I am not a doctor. I do not play one on television and I do not dispense medical advice. If you are pregnant and interested in how massage therapy can help you during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor/midwife. Each situation is different and you should be receiving prenatal care and the person responsible for your prenatal care would be the one to discuss this with.
That being said, in my 13 years of practice I have seen women from all walks of pregnancy life. From the client who hadn’t even told her family yet but had to tell me because it’s something that your massage therapist should absolutely know, to the client who came in for weekly massage from her first trimester all the way to a week past her due date.
How can prenatal massage help you?
There are huge benefits to prenatal massage and how it can help the expectant mother prepare for her upcoming bundle of joy. Prenatal massage can:
- Alleviate joint pain and discomfort caused by weight gain and swelling
- Help to treat ailments commonly present during pregnancy such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling, leg cramps, headaches and more
- Assist in lowering blood pressure
- Help to lower stress levels
- Aid in soothing and relaxing the central nervous system (down regulation is your friend during pregnancy!)
- Offer a safe, natural method of pain relief during pregnancy (as well as before and after)
Who should avoid prenatal massage?
Again, I’m not a doctor so check with yours if you have concerns. However, some contraindications to prenatal massage include:
- Placenta previa/placenta disruption
- Nausea/vomiting (I wouldn’t want to get a massage if I was feeling pukey, baby or not!)
- A high risk of miscarriage
There has been a lot of debate over massage in the first trimester. Some massage therapists will not come near a pregnant woman in the first 12 weeks no matter how much money you throw at them. Others, like myself, take it on a case by case basis. Provided that you are cleared for prenatal massage and you are feeling pretty good, massage during any time in your pregnancy can be beneficial. There has been a long debate about certain reflex points to avoid during a prenatal massage for fear of inducing labor or causing a miscarriage, but a study done may have shown that acupuncture/acupressure during a massage did little to nothing to stimulate labor.
Again, choosing when to receive a prenatal massage is absolutely your choice, but make it an informed choice. Not only is massage during pregnancy good while you’re pregnant, but postnatal massage is equally as important. Your hormones after delivering that little bundle of joy that is going to keep you from restful sleep for the next several years are experiencing a surge that feels like you’ve been hit by a category 2 hurricane (or so I’m told). Postpartum massage may help with:
- Relaxation and stress reduction
- Anxiety and depression
- Pain relief
- Hormone regulation
- Lymphatic flow
- Decreased swelling
- Sleep and fatigue
At Michigan Massage and Wellness our therapists are trained in pre/post natal massage services and we have seen women as early as 5 days after delivering their baby, so rest assured you are in good hands. However, it’s not just about that hour you spend on the table, you’ll want to do things on your own time to help with the arrival and transition. Proper diet, exercise and stress management is critical to a healthy and happy pregnancy. If you haven’t been running regularly prior to getting pregnant, don’t decide at 16 weeks that you want to run a half marathon. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been doing Crossfit for 5 years, don’t let that bump stop you from getting your sweat on. I have a friend who was doing Crossfit up until she delivered a healthy baby at home (don’t worry, the home birth was planned 😉
No matter what stage you are at in your pregnancy journey, we would love to have you stop in for a session and take some time out for yourself. You’re growing a human! That’s a LOT of work!
In good hands,
Rebecca Tamm, LMT