Pregnancy can come with its fair share of pains and aches. For starters, as the body changes and grows, it can put a strain on the lower back. The pelvis and hips can become sore as well. This can be caused by the increase of the hormone relaxin in your body, resulting in loose ligaments.
If you are well aware of the benefits of massages to ease common aches and pains, you are likely wondering if it’s safe to get one now that you are pregnant. Fortunately, a prenatal massage is considered a great way to effectively manage stress levels during pregnancy.
Prenatal Massage in a Nutshell
Prenatal massages are adapted for the anatomical changes women go through while pregnant. In conventional massages, you might spend half the time lying on your stomach and half the time facing up.
However, as your posture and shape changes, special accommodations will be required (i.e., holes or special cushioning systems) to allow you to safely lie face down while providing room for your growing breasts and belly.
Generally, a prenatal massage is considered safe after the first trimester. However, it is crucial that you get the green light from your doctor and you let the massage therapist know what you are expecting. Getting a massage during the first three months of pregnancy is not advisable as it can trigger dizziness and morning sickness.
After the fourth month, you should not lie on your back during a massage as the weight of the uterus and the baby might reduce circulation to the placenta and compress the blood vessels. As a general rule of thumb, always communicate with your therapist about what hurts and what feels good.
Another important thing to keep in mind: while any massage therapist can work on pregnant women, it would be best to work with a specialist with training in maternal massage. This is important so you are in the hands of someone who knows how to relieve pressure and pain related to your changing anatomy.
It is also a must to check with your doctor before getting a prenatal massage. This is particularly important if you have high blood pressure, morning sickness, preeclampsia, bleeding, abdominal pain, fever, diabetes, or a contagious virus. These complications can be risky during pregnancy.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Some research indicates that massages can help relax and loosen the muscles and reduce stress hormones significantly. Massages can also help increase blood flow (which is important if you are pregnant) and can help ensure your lymphatic system works at peak efficiency.
A prenatal massage can also help reconnect your mind and body. Aside from helping you relax, a prenatal massage can also help relieve the following:
- Headaches and sinus congestion
- Joint pain
- Leg cramping
- Back and neck pain
- Carpal tunnel pain
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Leg cramping
Prenatal Massages at Home
If you want a maternal massage at home, keep the following tips in mind:
- Back rub. Sit on your side and have your partner use both hands to stroke the back up and down. Ask them to focus on the muscles on each side of the spine. You can also ask them to transition to kneading your muscles using the base of their hand or thumb.
- Scalp massage. Ask your partner to use both hands to move from the base of the skull to the hairline. Using gentle pressure, circling hands apart or together. They can also add gentle strokes to the face, which can be very relaxing.