What to Expect During a Pregnancy Massage
If you're pregnant or planning a baby, then you may have a long list of DOs and DON'Ts associated with what you are doing in terms of the food you are eating, the medication or supplements you're taking, the exercise you're doing and the way you are moving, working and planning your days. It all sounds a bit overwhelming!
In the same way that traditional massage can relax and rejuvenate you when you're feeling tense, pregnancy - or antenatal - massage, can be a treat that you enjoy to give yourself a little alone-time, if you need some pampering or just a break from the hectic itinerary of day-to-day life.
But in addition to being a relaxing and enjoyable way to spoil yourself as an expectant mother, pregnancy massage is also highly beneficial for the emotional and physiological well-being of both pregnant women and their babies.
What is Pregnancy Massage?
A pregnancy massage is performed by specially trained therapists, such as women's health physios, and is designed to meet a pregnant woman's needs. It is a gentle, yet effective, therapy that can help alleviate some of the most common discomforts created by pregnancy, including muscle cramps and myofascial pain in the lower back, neck, hips and legs.
As your body changes during pregnancy, excess stress will be placed upon your lower back, hips, shoulders, neck and abdominal muscles in particular, leading to aches and pains that you may not have experienced before.
During an antenatal treatment, the therapist will use a combination of relaxation massage and deep-tissue manipulation, aimed to rid you of the aches and pains caused by pregnancy-related changes to the body, to promote relaxation and to get your body ready for labour.
Difference Between Standard and Pregnancy Massage
In many ways, pregnancy massage is similar to a traditional massage. However, the techniques used during a pregnancy massage are adapted to suit the changes a woman's body goes through when she is carrying a baby and to ensure there is no harm to the mother or her fetus. Using a gentler pressure to encourage relaxation and promote well-being, or more applied firmness to relieve pain, the treatment is given in a way that is both beneficial and safe.
The therapist will direct the treatment to specific areas of the body such as the lower back, circulatory and lymphatic systems to help ensure a healthy flow of blood to mother and baby, and enhance the effective removal of toxins and waste.
The most noticeable difference between a traditional and a pregnancy massage is in the way you are asked to position yourself. In a standard massage, you will generally be laying on your front and back. However, pregnant woman are recommended never to lie on their bellies, so you are likely to be on your back for a short time, then on each of your sides with pillows between your legs and arms. This difference focuses on the comfort and safety of you and your baby.
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Although receiving treatment will indisputably promote feelings of comfort, relaxation and well-being, don't think that it's only an indulgent treat. On the contrary, this is considered an important part of multidisciplinary medicine; and targeted manipulation is a recognised treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.
Specialist manipulation during pregnancy offers a host of potential benefits:
- Reduction in neck, shoulder and ribs pain and muscle tension
- Easing of general pregnancy-related aches, pains and stresses in your lower back, hip and pelvis area
- Better sleep
- Reduction in stress hormones
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased fluid retention
- Better circulation
- Enhanced mood and decreased anxiety
- Better skin nourishment
- Reduction of cramping
- Improved energy levels
Studies have also shown that women who receive a regular antenatal massage tend to have shorter, less complicated births and a lower incidence of premature birth.
Is Pregnancy Massage Suitable for Me?
Whether or not you should have antenatal massage depends on how far along in your pregnancy you are.
1. Pregnancy Massage in the First Trimester
During the first trimester no massage is advisable, including pregnancy massage, because the risk of miscarriage is higher.
2. Pregnancy Massage in the Second Trimester
During the second trimester, pregnancy massage is ideal for addressing any problems you might be experiencing in your lower back, in particular. That's because the muscles in this region are affected by posture, and as your baby bump grows, it has an impact on your posture. Similarly, shoulders can also be sore at this time due to postural changes, so this discomfort can be targeted too.
3. Pregnancy Massage in the Third Trimester
During the third trimester, you are more likely to be experiencing swollen limbs and difficulty sleeping, causing irritability and mood swings. Furthermore, continuing hormonal changes and the rapid changes in your body might trigger anxiety. Antenatal massage at this time will encourage relaxation and increase your sense of well-being. At the same time, it will help drain the lymph system, removing toxins and extra fluids from places they have built up, like your legs.
If you are having concerns about your pregnancy or the physical changes of your body, an antenatal massage with a qualified women's health therapist will also give you the opportunity to talk about your fears and get some reassurance.
How To Prepare for Pregnancy Massage
First of all, just relax! The good news is that you don't need to make any special arrangements or preparations at all in order to enjoy the benefits of a prenatal massage. The bad news is ... well, there is no bad news.
Come to your pregnancy massage appointment wearing something comfortable. You will be asked to remove as much or as little clothing as you are happy with, considering you will be covered with a sheet or light blanket during the massage. Many women choose to be fully nude, or to wear only their underwear.
Then you just get comfortable on the massage table and let your therapist ease the aches and pains away.
After your treatment, you might feel a little lightheaded, so you should take your time getting up and out. In the days following your massage, you should drink plenty of water to help flush the toxins from your system and prevent headaches. You may also be advised to do a few gentle stretching exercises to keep your muscles loose and supple.
Depending on your situation and the specific problems that you are having, your therapist might recommend additional treatments throughout the remainder of your pregnancy to maintain the benefits as your body continues to change and grow.
If you're interested in exploring the ways that a pregnancy massage could benefit you, call Magdalena on 07877 017 936 or drop PelviCare an email for a chat with no obligation. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online.
PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond.