Massage during pregnancy not only makes a woman feel pampered, but offers undeniable physical benefits as well. Massage can relieve fatigue, enhance sleep, and calm an active baby. First Trimester • Relieve headaches • Help alleviate morning sickness • Reduce fatigue Second Trimester • Alleviate backaches • Relieve leg cramps Third Trimester • Reduce swelling/edema • Relieve pain from varicosities • Enhance sleep • Prepare pelvic muscles for birth process During the entire term of the pregnancy, massage can stimulate blood flow, which may assist in the prevention of anemia. An increase in muscle tone and flexibility will occur, alleviating leg cramps and muscle spasms.
Massage during pregnancy is also a great way to relieve everyday tension and the general aches and pains your body is suffering. It stimulates your lymphatic system, increasing immunity and the removal of excess toxins, while also stabilizing hormonal levels and balancing the glandular system.
When receiving pregnancy massage, you are positioned on your side to give the therapist access to your back or in a semi-reclining position for massage on the front of your body. Your body will be supported with pillows or special cushions. Some therapists may have pillows specifically designed for pregnant women, including a “breakaway tummy” to support the pelvic area while lying on your stomach. You will be properly draped while the therapist is working, except for the area being massaged
Many pregnancy massage specialists integrate a variety of techniques into their work. Depending on where you are in the pregnancy, the therapist may utilize reflexology, Swedish massage, or very light shiatsu.
Women with normal, low-risk pregnancies can benefit greatly from massage by a trained pregnancy massage therapist. However, women in high-risk pregnancies should consult with their doctor or midwife before beginning a massage therapy program. If at any time during the massage you experience discomfort, tell the therapist immediately.
Massage during the weeks after delivery helps to restore muscle tone in the abdomen and reposition the pelvis. And remember, touch is a very important part of bonding with your baby. Ask about receiving instruction in massaging your baby.
The massage therapist may use essential oils during your massage. Since many have physical effects on the body, you should be aware of the oils the therapist may use. Oils that have stimulating effects should be avoided, such as basil, cinnamon, cedarwood, and peppermint. Clary sage should also be avoided as it can initiate labor. The following are recommended as safe for use during pregnancy: lavender to relieve nausea, headaches, and constipation; neroli and ylang-ylang may help reduce stretch marks.
It is very important you obtain approval from your medical provider before receiving any form of massage during pregnancy.
Information provided courtesy of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals www.abmp.com