- Reduced back pain
- Reduced joint pain
- Improved circulation
- Reduced oedema
- Reduced muscle tension and headache
- Hormone regulation
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Decreased symptoms of depression
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
- Better sleep
It is important to see a massage therapist with additional training in pregnancy/ peri-natal massage, so that they have a thorough understanding of pregnancy and your pregnant needs, knowledge of the contraindications to working with pregnant clients, and how to safely adapt positioning, massage and stretching techniques to pregnancy’s demands. Pregnancy massage involves different techniques and modifications to the treatments so don’t be afraid to ask if your therapist has specialist training.
Safe positioning is also of upmost importance when receiving a pregnancy massage. The best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole for the belly to fit through may seem like a wonderful idea in order to allow you to be able to lie face down, however, in reality there are a number of reasons why this cannot be recommended. First of all, not all bodies are the same size or shape. Some people have longer torsos than others and some carry higher or lower and some people have weight distributed differently. A pre-made hole isn’t going to fit every bump. More importantly dangling your belly through a hole can put strain on your ligaments. The uterus is held in place by 3 sets of ligaments. During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin is released that causes you to not feel ligament pain as much. This comes in useful when your pelvis starts to shift and open to allow the baby to get low and eventually to come out. It also means you are not going to feel ligament damage as it is happening. Hanging your belly through a hole in a table essentially means that gravity is pulling the entire weight of the contents of your uterus (baby, amniotic fluid, placenta) down, whilst the ligaments are trying to keep everything where it should be. Some tables have a sling that goes underneath the table which can be tightened to support the ligaments, but the amount it would need to be tightened to protect those ligaments is enough to increase intra-uterine pressure (the pressure inside the uterus) which is what the hole was aiming to prevent! Tables with these holes also increase the risk of increasing back pain. Very often pregnancy creates a tendency towards increased spinal curvature and tension (this is quite likely one of the reasons you would come for a pregnancy massage). If the belly is hanging through hole the back also isn’t well supported which strains the ligaments between the vertebrae. If the massage therapist also applies pressure to the back as part of the massage further damage could be done, that you may not notice straight away due to the relaxin.
For these reasons pregnancy I offer pregnancy massages in the sidelying position on an extra-wide massage table. 4-8 pillows of various sizes and shapes are used to support the healthy alignment of your body whilst supporting your belly. When the body is in proper alignment, with the knees stacked one above the other and the hips lined up with the shoulders, it mimics the body’s natural lines and allows for better range of motion of the joints. Keeping the hips and ankles stacked one on top of the other reduces the twist in the low spine and allows space for the sciatic nerve and the tendon and ligaments of the pelvis. Being shown how to use pillows to get comfortable in a side lying position will also give you some tips for getting a comfy night’s sleep.