Is It Safe To Get A Massage While You Are Pregnant?

By Elizabeth Crawford | Blog

May 07

Massage therapy has been popularly used to relieve various forms of ailments and conditions. Different forms of massage have been developed and handed down generations with each technique promising new benefits to health and overall wellness. However, when it comes to getting a massage while pregnant, approval may not always be unanimous.

What Is Pregnancy Massage?

Pregnancy massage refers to any type of massage that is undertaken during (prenatal) and after (post-natal) the term of pregnancy. If you are planning on getting massage while pregnant, make sure the therapist is licensed and certified in Prenatal Massage.

The first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy carries the highest risk of miscarriage. 20% of miscarriages happen during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. A qualified Prenatal Massage therapist has the skills and knowledge to carry out the safest massage techniques for pregnant women.

Pregnancy massage is usually performed on a specially designed massage table which is large enough to comfortably accommodate the pregnant woman’s belly. In some cases, if the massage table is not available, a Prenatal Massage therapist would use pillows called bolsters.

A bolster is a pillow that is likewise designed especially for pregnant women. The Prenatal Massage therapist will arrange the bolsters in a way that the pregnant woman would feel very comfortable lying on her side.

Common Misconceptions About Massage While Pregnant

If you are getting a massage while pregnant, there is a good chance that a massage therapist will not accept your request for a massage until you are in the second trimester of your pregnancy. They will not give in to your request even after you have informed them that you had your last massage two weeks ago.

The reason is that there are misconceptions about the effects of massage on a pregnant woman. These misconceptions bring about fear and doubt even if it can be proven that massage therapy is perfectly safe for a woman who is pregnant and in fact, can be beneficial for both mother and baby.

Here are three of the most common misconceptions about the risks of massage for pregnant women:

  1. Morning Sickness – Many massage therapists will not work on a client who is nauseous; a common symptom of pregnant women suffering from “Morning Sickness”.

    However, not all women suffer from morning sickness. Also, appointments can be scheduled after her usual bouts with morning sickness.

    Lastly, there are ways to overcome the symptoms or morning sickness. These techniques include eating smaller meals and drinking ginger tea.

  2. Abdominal Massage – There is also the fear that abdominal massage can dislodge the placenta which may lead to a miscarriage. The placenta is not fully developed until the third month.

    However, it is already firmly entrenched to the uterine wall during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It would take a forceful and traumatic impact to the abdominal area for the placenta to be dislodged.

    Prenatal massage on the abdominal area is very gentle and light.

  3. Miscarriage – This is why many massage therapists will not accept pregnant women as clients. Your doctor may also cite the risk of miscarriage as the primary reason you should avoid getting a pregnancy massage particularly during the first trimester.

    Miscarriages are common but massage therapy is not among its primary factors. Majority of miscarriages happen because of the following conditions:

    Miscarriages are common but massage therapy is not among its primary factors. Majority of miscarriages happen because of the following conditions:

    • Chromosomal abnormalities
    • Infections
    • Pre-existing conditions of the mother (diabetes and renal disease)
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Age of the mother
    • Overall lifestyle of the mother (smoking and alcohol consumption)

    The best approach would be to see your doctor first and get a complete check-up. This is one of the most important pregnancy massage precautions you have to take. If you pass the medical tests, your doctor may give you clearance for a pregnancy massage.

What Are The Benefits Of Getting A Massage While You Are Pregnant?

Massage therapy has been associated with a multitude of health benefits:

  • Improved blood circulation
  • Better mood
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Reduced episodes of migraines and headaches
  • Lower stress levels

Can pregnant women reap the same benefits? Yes! In addition, massage therapy will also address conditions that are directly related to pregnancy.

Here are the three of the most important benefits of massage during pregnancy:

  1. Helps Promote Hormonal Balance
    Pregnancy is one of the world’s greatest miracles. However, it will introduce necessary changes in the woman’s life. There are certain tasks at work and home that she will not be able to do. If she is socially active, life will become more sedentary and home-based.

    For many, these changes can lead to stressful times. A pregnant woman’s hormone levels can become imbalanced due to stress. As we discussed in the previous section, hormonal imbalance increases the risk of miscarriage.

    Fortunately, studies done on the benefits of massage on pregnant women have shown that it can lead to the reduction of stress hormones (cortisol and norepinephrine). Prenatal massage can also increase the levels of the hormones dopamine and serotonin which help pregnant women fight off depression.

  2. Reduces Swelling of Joints
    Pregnant women also suffer from edema or frequent swelling of the joints. This is caused by problems in circulation and the increased pressure applied to the major vessels as the fetus continues to grow and gain weight.

    Prenatal massage helps reduce swelling by using techniques that stimulate soft tissues. As these tissues become more active, it facilitates the removal of fluids that have accumulated in the joints.

  3. Decreases Chronic Pain
    Ask many mothers what was the most uncomfortable thing about being pregnant. Chances are, most will tell you it was lower back pain.

    During pregnancy, the uterus exerts pressure on the muscles located on the pelvic floor and around the area of the lower back. It induces an uncomfortable condition known as sciatic nerve pain.

    This is a condition whereby the added pressure from the uterus increases the weight load on the upper and lower leg. The increased tension causes the muscles to swell and apply more pressure on the surrounding nerves.

    Back massage during pregnancy will help ease sciatic nerve pain by using techniques that help release tension on the affected muscles.

Conclusion: Is It Safe To Get A Massage During Pregnancy?

Generally, undergoing massage while you are pregnant is safe. As discussed above, there are many benefits of massage during pregnancy. The benefits could be helpful for mother and baby.

It is fine to get massages while you’re pregnant. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Here are two pregnancy massage precaution tips to keep in mind before pushing through with your plans to have a therapy session:

  1. Have yourself checked and cleared by your doctor.
    In order to best ensure the health and safety of mother and baby, keep your doctor informed every step of the way. He/she is your coach during pregnancy.

    Do not embark on any new activity, including pregnancy massage, without getting the approval of your doctor.

  2. Only hire the services of a licensed and certified Prenatal Massage therapist.
    It takes a minimum of 500 hours of course work for a massage therapist to become a certified Prenatal Massage therapist. Check with a local organization or agency of massage therapists to get recommendations.

    Ask your friends who know of a good Prenatal Massage therapist. Take the time to review their references and to perform a thorough background check.

Lastly, be more vigilant about your health condition. If you feel unwell, forego the massage and see your doctor right away.

About the Author

My name is Elizabeth, and I’m the creator and owner of this website. First of all, I want to thank you for visiting my website.

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