I can just imagine it—calming waterfall music, the smell of soothing massage oil, warm towels… To be able to breathe deeply and simply relax….Mmm, yes there really is nothing like a good massage—just to be able to ease all the tension that builds up from the stress and busyness we experience in life.
While massage can have many health benefits for anyone, particularly to relieve stress, massage can have even more benefits if you are expecting. Not only can it help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, but it can also help improve sleep, relieve back, muscle, joint, and sciatic nerve pain, reduce swelling, and alleviate headaches. Prenatal massage can also improve hormone regulation which decreases the chances of labor complications as well as newborn health complications.
But there are some things to consider when looking into getting a prenatal massage. Make sure to tell your massage therapist if you have had consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions, pre-term labor, preeclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH), severe headaches and swelling, high blood pressure, or a high risk pregnancy. Specifically, if you have had pre-term contractions, a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist will know certain pressure points to avoid to prevent any stimulation of the pelvic muscles or uterus.
You may be wondering, “Okay, so how you would I even lie on a massage table?” In general, the position most professionals agree is best for expecting moms is on the side. So don’t worry—you won’t be in some awkward position. But some massage therapists do use a table with a hole in it for your uterus to fit into, which is not as beneficial as it puts pressure on the uterus. So make sure to ask the massage therapist what kind of position she uses before setting up an appointment. Also, make sure to find a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist. You can find a list of massage therapists by searching in the “Find a provider in your area” box on our website at americanpregnancy.org.
Personally, considering all the health benefits massage has, particularly for pregnant women, I’d say, “Sounds great to me! When can I get in for an appointment?” Mmm, yes. Consider it a treat for yourself. Self-care—it’s important, especially as you prepare to give birth and as you get ready for the many exciting months ahead. But for now just breathe deeply, enjoy your massage, and relax.
American Pregnancy Association. (2013, January). Massage and pregnancy—Prenatal massage. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/prenatalmassage.html