What is pregnancy massage? Is it safe for you to have one? Where do you go for a pregnancy massage?
Your pregnancy can be a wonderful but stressful time. Your body is changing to accommodate your growing baby, and this can bring about new aches and pains in areas you haven’t experienced them before. A pregnancy massage can help to alleviate these common aches and pains, and more women are taking advantage of them.
What is a Pregnancy Massage?
When you get a pregnancy massage, the goals are the same as a regular massage. The massage therapist wants to help you relax, melt your stress away, and help reduce any pain or aches you may be feeling so you leave your massage session feeling balanced, relaxed, and happy.
When you’re pregnant, you typically have a few issues you’d like the massage therapist to address that relates exclusively to your pregnancy. These include lower back and hip pain due to the additional weight; breathing or digestive issues due to the baby shifting your organs; and upper back pain due to an increase in breast size.
Pregnancy massages differ in positions from regular massages as well. You won’t lay face down after the first trimester, and this helps to reduce the stress on your abdomen and your uterine muscles. You may also receive your massage on your side or in a semi-upright position to avoid any unneeded compression of the vena cava and low maternal blood pressure.
Health Benefits of a Pregnancy Massage
There are several health benefits associated with having a prenatal or pregnancy massage. It is a good idea that you discuss any particular symptoms you’d like to see reduced before you start your session so your therapist can work on those problem areas.
Aches and Pains. The ordinary symptoms of pregnancy like aches and minor pains can be countered by massage because it’ll encourage your body to release serotonin. This chemical is your body’s natural pain reliever.
Fatigue and Backaches. During your pregnancy, it’s common to have fatigues, backaches, edema, and swelling. By massaging these areas, the massage therapist can help to alleviate these symptoms.
Headaches. Tension headaches and migraines are a common problem during your pregnancy. The massage therapist will work to reduce your headaches by massaging your temples, neck, and shoulders to reduce your tension and stress levels.
Muscle Tension. When you’re pregnant, your muscles work harder to support the additional weight of the baby. This can lead to muscle soreness and tension. A massage can encourage blood flow to the tense areas. In turn, this increases the oxygen flow, and it encourages the flow of lymphatic fluid.
What to Expect
When you book your appointment for your pregnancy massage, you should ask if your massage therapist if they have a specialty certification in prenatal. If they say they do, book your appointment.
Once you arrive at your appointment, sit down with your massage therapist and explain any issues you may be having. The spa should have a thorough history for you including allergies, how far along you are, complications, sensitivities, and any physical discomfort you’re experiencing.
Once you’ve gone through all of this, your massage therapist will tailor a pregnancy massage routine to address your needs. If you’re ever uncomfortable or your needs change, speak up and let the massage therapist know.
How Pregnancy Massage Therapists are Trained
It is very important that your massage therapist is specially trained in prenatal massage. Most massage therapists are told not to give massages to pregnant women as there are more risks involved. Your prenatal massage therapist must meet several legal requirements before they can legally claim to be a prenatal massage therapist.
Most massage schools require that their students meet strict requirements to be certified, and they vary by state.
Typically, they all fall into these hour ranges:
- 100 hours of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Kinesiology
- Over 50 hours of Business, Law, and Ethics
- 300 or more hours of Massage Therapy, Bodywork Theory, or Practice and Technique
- 20 hours of clinical work
- 5 hours of CPR/AED
- 100 additional hours in courses related to massage therapy
- State board licensing in prenatal massage
Who Should Avoid Pregnancy Massages?
There isn’t a lot of research available for pregnancy massages, and this may make many doctors to approach it conservatively. If you’re a person that is at a high-risk for miscarriage, you’re experiencing severe morning sickness, vomiting or nausea, or if you have a high-risk pregnancy, you should hold off on trying prenatal massage. Always consult your doctor before you try something new, and go to a reputable pregnancy massage therapist.
Final Word: Is Pregnancy Massage Safe?
As we stated before, there is little research into this field. Additionally, the training requirements vary by state, and this makes it harder to be sure you’re visiting an experienced, certified prenatal massage therapist. If your pregnancy massage is done in a reputable massage clinic by a certified professional, it can be safe. (The American Massage Therapy Association has a locator tool that you can use to find a qualified and certified massage therapist near you.)
There are always risks, and you should always clear it with your OB or doctor before you decide to have a pregnancy massage.