When a woman is pregnant, it is one of the most exciting times in her life, but also, perhaps one of the scariest. She is now responsible for the safety of another human being. When she considers relieving some prenatal discomfort with massage, she has many questions about not only effectiveness, but also safety. Here, we attempt to answer some of the most popular questions relating to prenatal massage.
At what point can I get massage during my pregnancy? I heard it’s not safe to do in my first trimester.
Some therapists who specialize in prenatal massage do not recommend massage during the first trimester. They may do so for a few reasons. First, many women experience morning sickness during this time. There is the possibility that the morning sickness may interfere with their massage session. Therapists may also want to avoid the trimester in which most miscarriages occur. Liability is a main motivation here. However, most miscarriages are not due to anything that the expectant mom does or does not do and cannot be avoided. Properly trained prenatal massage practitioners can safely and effectively address first-trimester concerns with appropriate massage techniques.
What about a foot massage? Can’t this induce my labor?
Some well-circulated wives’ tales surround the idea that a pregnant woman cannot receive a foot massage. As with most wives’ tales, there is a grain of truth and a mountain of speculation. Fact: there are several points on the foot and ankle that reflexologists use to stimulate labor. Fiction: rubbing your feet will induce labor. If this were the case, no woman would ever reach 40 weeks gestation! The reflexology points that require stimulation are very specific and require deep, pointed, sustained stimulation to have any effect. Even then, the effect is not documented. Again, with a therapist who has specific training in prenatal massage, you are in safe hands of someone who knows what to stay away from, what to massage and how to do it safely.
Will I have to lie in an uncomfortable position? Can they really get to all my sore spots?
Prenatal massage therapists are trained in specialized positioning. Typically, an expectant mother is placed in both semi-reclining and sidelying positions. A pregnant woman should not lay face down after 19 weeks or if she is uncomfortable. She should also avoid laying on the right side with circulatory conditions. Both of these classic prenatal positions allow for the therapist to deliver amazing amounts of relief to shoulders, hips, low back, and legs. All areas of the body are easily accessible. Most moms-to-be find that, with all the bolsters that their therapist uses, they don’t want to leave the table!
Prenatal massage can be a very safe and effective way to alleviate some of the most common aches and pains that women feel during pregnancy. Just be sure that the massage therapist has training specifically in prenatal massage and is familiar with all of the positioning modifications and contraindications that impact massage and the expectant mom.