Prenatal Massage Therapy
Massage therapy during pregnancy is often referred to as prenatal massage. Throughout various stages of pregnancy, women experience emotional and physiological changes that affect the body as a whole. The changes in the musculoskeletal system can cause discomfort for the soon to be mother. Lower back or sacroiliac joint pain is one the most common complaints that starts early on in pregnancy. This pain could be due to the hormone changes she is experiencing, or from newly formed postural habits as the fetus starts to grow and the mother adjusts to the shift in weight. Some women may experience some upper back pain due to a change in the curvature of the spine. Problems such as swelling and various compression syndromes typically occur around the third trimester. This includes Piriformis syndrome (sciatic pain), carpal tunnel, and thoracic outlet syndrome.
Prenatal Massage Can Assist With:
- Stress relief on weight bearing joints
- Reduction of swelling in the extremities
- Alleviation of muscle tension and body pains
- Promotion of circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid
- Soothing and relaxing the soon to be mother and growing baby
What to Expect During the Massage
Women in their first trimester will be treated lying on their stomach. During the second and third trimester, positioning changes to side-lying using pillows or bolsters for comfort. Especially in the last trimester, time with the client being face up is limited to 10-15 minutes with a pillow under the right hip. The depth and pressure is up to the client and her therapist. Some women may not want as deep of pressure during massage. It is important to keep your therapist informed as to your preference. Massage therapy is safe during pregnancy; however, it is important to make sure your therapist meets provincial requirements and is fully trained (2200 educational hours).
While massage therapy can help alleviate discomfort, there are many self-care activities that can also be done at home. Ice can be applied to the sore or swollen areas for approximately 10-15 minutes to help relieve muscle aches and pains by decreasing the blood flow. Keeping up with stretching and continuing with exercise programs throughout pregnancy will help with aches and pains.
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Fritz, Sandy. Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage, Third edition. St. Louis: Elsevier, 2004. p 539-542
Rattray, Fiona S and Ludwig, Linda. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding and treating over 70 conditions. Toronto: Talus Incorporated, 2000. p 177-192
Feild, Tiffany. Pregnancy and Labor Massage. National Institute of Health. Touch Research Institute. March 2010. Web. 14 February 2013.