As a mother-to-be, receiving prenatal massage (PM) can be beneficial throughout your entire pregnancy, offering greater relaxation and comfort to you and your baby. Research shows that receiving PM throughout your gestation can make for an easier delivery and overall good health for a newborn baby. Massage can also help decrease unwanted symptoms that come with carrying your miracle. Did you know that massage promotes healthy digestion and blood circulation? Massage can improve skin elasticity and immune function. Tell your licensed massage therapist (LMT) about the symptoms you’re experiencing so that he or she can determine the proper techniques to apply. Be sure you’re doing research in finding the right therapist to suit your specific needs. If you are having sciatic pain, itchy tight skin, digestive upsets or feelings of anxiety and depression, there are techniques to target each specific issue.
It’s best to find a therapist who has experience and passion for treating pregnant clients. Your therapist should know what precautions to take when practicing massage on the changing anatomy of a pregnant woman.
In early stages of pregnancy, a PM will seem about the same as receiving a regular massage with Swedish techniques. At this time the prone position (lying on your back) may still be comfortable without causing discomfort or pain to you or your fetus. As your belly grows and your anatomy changes, certain modifications to both technique and positioning during massage become necessary. For example, at 22 weeks gestation it’s recommended that mommy-to-be eliminate lying on her back at all. At this point, the supine position can cause decreased circulation to baby among other issues. I find that the side-lying position is the best way to both provide comfort and allow access to critical focus areas for treatment. For side-lying positioning I use a long body sized pillow and a regular sleeping pillow. I ask my pregnant client to lie on her side, leaning comfortably into the body pillow while adjusting the regular pillow under her head to assure balance between head and body, therefore making it easy to relax.
It is common in later stages of gestation for the client to become uncomfortable when lying in one position for too long, so some minor adjustments can be made throughout the session to regain comfort. Some massage clinics offer a special table with a cutout in the middle allowing your belly to drop through in the prone position (face down). Others may offer the same concept through special foam props the put on top of the table with curves to fit the well-developed belly.
If you enjoyed receiving PM during your pregnancy but are now experiencing postpartum depression, seek a relaxation or Swedish massage to let go of those negative emotions. Want to bond with your baby and avoid risking unbalanced sleep patterns or colic? Look into infant massage in your community.
Note: It is recommended that you ask your physician or midwife before seeking an LMT, especially if you are considered a high-risk pregnancy or if you’ve previously had a premature delivery.