Additional weight, back pain, muscle strains, and emotional imbalances are only a few of all the physical and mental troubles a pregnant woman can suffer from during her pregnancy. While a great way to subdue stressors is to enjoy a soothing pregnancy massage therapy, is it safe for a pregnant woman to have a massage session? The common answer is YES!
Prenatal massage is normally approved; however, there are certain conditions and circumstances that need special attention. Moreover, in case of high-risk pregnancy, there are certain boundaries a pregnant woman should definitely bear in mind. Also, there are a few massage types that are better to avoid due to their extra pressure on a pregnant woman’s body. In any case, no type of massage therapy should be ever given to a pregnant woman unless an official physician’s permission is obtained.
In this article, firstly, we will start with a number of well-known massage types to check if they are safe to be used for a pregnant woman. And then, we will review a number of absolutely significant issues for which a pregnant woman should exercise utmost caution before deciding on receiving massage therapy. Generally speaking, any medical treatment or holistic therapy during pregnancy should give priority to the health of both the pregnant mother and her baby before anything else.
What Massage Types Can Be Safe for a Pregnant Woman
Regardless of the technique and intensity of the massage, it should be noted that the most appropriate position for almost all pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy is side-lying which can provide an ideal level of safety and comfort. Moreover, this position helps the body with the production of happiness-improving chemicals, such as endorphins and serotonin. Now that we know the best massage position, we will review the possible effects of a number of massage types on a pregnant woman:
- Swedish massage: Swedish massage is a combination of soft, long, and rhythmic strokes and gliding movements on the affected muscles. This massage type has a lengthy list of benefits for the body, such as reduction of muscular tension, improvement of blood circulation, and decline of mental and emotional stress. It can enhance hormonal balance by increasing the secretion of happiness hormones of serotonin and dopamine as well as decreasing the stress hormone of cortisol.
Due to the effectiveness of Swedish massage in reducing mental and physical discomfort and stress, and as Swedish massage movements and strokes are normally lighter compared to most other massage types, it is actually the most recommended massage to be applied as prenatal massage.
- Deep tissue massage: This massage type is similar to Swedish massage with more or less similar techniques. However, the purposes are usually different since Swedish massage is mostly applied in order to soothe the mental and physical tension of everyday stressors, while deep tissue massage is commonly used to reduce chronic muscle pain. Moreover, Swedish massage usually applies gentle pressure while deep tissue massage involves firmer and deeper pressure intended to manipulate deeper tissue layers.
Deep tissue massage is applied with a higher level of pressure and intensity, and it may worsen morning sickness. In addition, the pressure of deep tissue massage is too much especially around unprotected and sensitive areas such as the abdomen or legs. Therefore, during pregnancy, it is preferable that deep tissue massage is replaced with a lighter massage type that employs a lesser amount of intensity.
- Aromatherapy massage: Aromatherapy massage is the combination of massage techniques and the application of aromatic essential oils, which have therapeutic effects, onto the skin. Similar to deep tissue massage, aromatherapy massage is based on Swedish massage techniques. However, unlike deep tissue massage, aromatherapy massage is generally suitable for pregnant women due to the soothing effects of the applied essential oils, unless the person is allergic to the applied essential oils.
In order to detect and avoid any sensitivity, it is extremely important that any client, particularly if pregnant, have an initial intake of the essential oils that are about to be used during the therapy. There are also a few essential oils, such as lavender and ylang-ylang, which are relatively safer compared to others. Nevertheless, essential oils such as those made up of garlic, lemongrass, citron, lemon basil, wintergreen, peppermint, and onion may have harmful effects on the mother or the fetus.
- Acupressure: Another holistic therapy that can be used in order to pacify one’s mind and body is acupressure. Working basically similar to acupuncture, acupressure also tends to balance the blood flow and life energy through the body. However, unlike acupuncture, the pressure is performed using hands, fingers, and elbows on special points in the body.
It is said that acupressure can help pregnant women to treat nausea and morning sickness as well as reducing pregnancy pain in the lower back. In fact, there are a few safe points such as the bottom of the foot which can lower the body and mind tension. However, there are special points that should not receive any type of pressure or manipulation, such as areas around the uterus and ovaries, or specific acupressure points such as the area near the inner ankle. Therefore, in order to avoid any possible type of risk during pregnancy, it is advisable not to receive trickier holistic therapies such as acupressure.
Here is the list of all the significant issues a pregnant mother should certainly watch out before making any decision about receiving massage therapy:
- Official gynecologist’s permission: First and foremost, visiting, consulting, and asking for permission from an obstetrician or gynecologist is a must for every pregnant mother before starting massage therapy, whether the pregnancy is high-risk or ordinary. Moreover, if the physician agrees with the massage therapy, it is preferable that the mother asks for the accredited clinics and certified prenatal massage therapists that her physician approves.
- Pregnancy trimesters: Most prenatal massage therapists avoid applying certain massage types during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. The changes a massage can make in one’s blood flow can be harmful to a pregnant woman. In the first trimester, there is a risk of miscarriage and in the third trimester, there is a risk of premature birth. However, this can be different in various cases and should be examined by an obstetrician or gynecologist.
- Any medical conditions: Any medical issue related to imbalanced blood pressure, heart disease, recent surgery, or any other medical issues prohibits a pregnant woman from receiving any type of massage unless being performed under the direct supervision of a physician or expert. Moreover, in case of having even a minute problem, it should be thoroughly examined by a physician before using any supplementary treatment such as massage therapy.
- Massage office conditions: While looking for a proper massage clinic, spa, or office, one should absolutely make sure that the massage office is hygienic and without dirt or grime. In the case of pregnancy, even more extreme care should be taken before selecting a proper massage office. Moreover, not any therapist can perform safe and efficient prenatal massage therapy. The office and the professional therapists should assuredly have prenatal massage certifications, which can also be easily verified online through their names or massage license numbers.
Techniques and equipment: As mentioned above, the best massage position for a pregnant woman is side-lying while using special pillows to rest the stomach. Therefore, not every massage technique and equipment can be employed throughout giving a pregnant woman a massage. Also, her baby or she may be allergic to special massage oils or lotions.
3 important things to know before prenatal massage
Regarding all the above-mentioned points, deciding on starting a massage therapy as well as finding the most appropriate massage office and prenatal therapist can be a very challenging task for a pregnant woman. However, if a to-be mother takes care of these three issues, she can choose the best option to relax:
- Visiting her doctor before receiving any holistic therapy
- Telling her therapist that she is pregnant
- And, considering that the most appropriate position for a pregnant woman is side-lying
In general, in case of taking utmost care, the exhausted and agitated mind and body of a pregnant woman can definitely take comfort and relief in proper massage therapy if approved and monitored by an obstetrician or gynecologist as well as a qualified prenatal massage therapist.
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