A pregnancy massage, also referred to as prenatal massage, is similar to a standard therapeutic massage, but is designed to take into account special needs and precautions needed when a pregnant woman receives a massage.
Who Performs the Massage?
Although any massage therapist has some cursory training in pregnancy massage, recommendations are that you receive a massage, while expecting, from those specifically trained to perform prenatal massage. A certification in pregnancy massage is of high importance to ensure your chosen therapist knows exactly what pressure points in your body to avoid and when.
When Is It Safe for You and Baby?
While you can receive a pregnancy massage throughout the entire pregnancy, some therapists do not provide massage therapy on expectant mothers still in their first trimester. This is because there is always a higher risk of miscarriage during this period and undergoing a massage treatment can increase the risk. To lessen the risk, therapists may recommend that the massage therapy not begin until you are in your second trimester.
How Will You Be Positioned?
The position depends on the particular therapist and what position she feels is best for you. Many therapists use a standard flat massage table and have you lie on your side, most likely utilizing a body pillow for comfort.
Others have specially designed tables that have areas hollowed out, as to accommodate your belly as well as your breasts. With this type of table, lying on your stomach is not supposed to cause any pressure on the baby; however, having the belly hanging into the hollowed out areas may actually strain the uterus, causing the baby distress.
A discussion with your therapist of choice will determine what type of table works best for you, and it may vary depending on what trimester you are in at the time.
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits of pregnancy massage are very similar to standard massages. General benefits include, but are not limited to, relaxation, stress relief and pain relief in joints or back. Specific benefits for you are all of the above, but also include swelling reduction and may even regulate your hormones.
Studies show that pregnancy massage can increase serotonin and a dopamine level; low levels of these hormones are indicative of depression and the increase of these hormones can lead to a better overall mood and pregnancy for you. Changes in these hormones can lead to fewer complications for you during delivery and a healthier newborn.
How to Find a Pregnancy Massage Therapist
Consulting your physician is one way to locate a reputable pregnancy massage therapist. Another option is to ask a friend or family if they have any experience with therapists in your area. Finally, calling around to your local therapists and inquiring as to their certifications and expertise in pregnancy massage can be useful as well.