In the past, pregnancy massage was seen as something only enjoyed by those who sought alternative therapies. These days, however, its popularity has increased, simply because we are always on the lookout for ways to increase our wellbeing.
The Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
There are numerous benefits to pregnancy massage including:
- It provides an opportunity to rest, relax, and feel rejuvenated.
- It is believed to reduce stress-related hormones.
- It can help with joint and sciatic nerve pains and aid muscle relaxation.
- It can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- It can help with the everyday aches and pains of pregnancy, such as a sore back, leg cramps, aches in the neck and swelling of the feet and ankles.
- It can improve sleep, as the muscles become less tense and more relaxed.
- In some cases, it can alleviate pregnancy-related heartburn and nausea.
Refraining from Pregnancy Massage
There are times when a pregnancy massage needs to be avoided. For example:
- If your doctor or midwife has advised that you should avoid a pregnancy massage.
- Some therapists won’t perform massage in the first trimester of pregnancy. This is related to the risk of miscarriage, which is higher in the first 12 weeks.
- If you have had a premature labour in the past.
- If your pregnancy is classed as ‘high-risk’.
- If you experience severe headaches.
- If you have swelling and fluid retention.
- If you have pre-eclampsia.
- If you have high blood pressure related to your pregnancy.
What A Pregnancy Massage Entails
Pregnancy massage considers the principles used in Swedish massage. The reason being that these techniques help to improve blood flow and reduce muscle tension.
Quite often, massage therapists burn incense sticks and use aromatherapy oils, which help to increase the overall massage experience. That said, there are several oils that shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, as they can induce contractions of the uterus. For example, oils such as sage, peppermint, rosemary, basil, thyme and oregano. Many massage therapists use low-scented or scent-free oils to ensure a safe pregnancy massage.
If you are comfortable with it then it is worth having as much skin exposed as possible (your private areas will always remain covered), in order to gain the most benefit from the massage.
Various types of equipment often used during a pregnancy massage include:
- Floor Mats: Floor mattresses and low massage beds.
- Massage Cushions: A massage cushion is made of firm foam and the area around the stomach and bust is cut out. Some of these cushions can be used on the floor and support a pregnant lady who is kneeling. Others are designed to be used on a standard massage bed.
- Massage Tables: It is possible to have a pregnancy massage where you can lay on your front as the stomach and bust area has been cut out.
Who Provides Pregnancy Massages?
A qualified therapist who specialises in pregnancy massage (or antenatal massage) is required. Doctors and midwives are usually able to recommend someone or you can look online for a suitable local therapist. Once a massage therapist has been located, it is worth asking them about their qualifications, training and experience.
All in all, a pregnancy massage is not just about treating your body, it’s also a special time to relax and unwind your mind.