While a massage may have previously been a luxury item on your budget, a prenatal massage may bump itself into the “necessity” category. Pregnancy is stressful, exhausting, and, yes, at times, pretty darn painful. This is a time when you definitely deserve a hands-on approach.
So is it the right option for you? Let’s take a look.
Pregnancy massage FAQs
What do they do during a prenatal massage?
Let’s start by pinning down the term prenatal massage.
Basically, it’s a massage during pregnancy that caters to the specific needs of your pregnant body.
That means a few things:
- It focuses on pregnancy-specific pains, including in your legs, feet, and lower back.
- The therapist might have a specific table designed for pregnant women.
- You’ll likely be lying on your side, sitting upright, or slightly reclined.
- The therapist might ease any strain on your body by using pillows and bolsters to support your neck, knees, back, and pretty much whatever else needs supporting.
- The massage will be gentler than what you may be used to. Pregnant women are more prone to blood clots, and a massage that is too intense might have the power to dislodge one.
Prenatal massage benefits
Studies have shown that massage can be very helpful when it comes to making the pregnancy road a smoother one for your body.
Benefits of prenatal massage may include:
- Improved circulation.
- Decreased depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Pain alleviation.
- Reduced swelling in your feet.
- More restful sleep.
And of course, generally making you feel pretty awesome. (Warning: pregnancy massage can induce that I didn’t know I needed that kind of response. Yes, please!)
What’s different about a prenatal massage?
There are massage therapists out there that are specifically trained and certified to give prenatal massages. If you don’t have one in your area, best to stick to a trained massage therapist who is registered with an organization like the American Massage Therapy Association.
Your massage therapist will generally need you to sign a waiver. They may also ask for a letter from your doctor before going ahead.
So next question: when to get a prenatal massage.
When can you get a prenatal massage?
The American Pregnancy Associations says that you can get one any time during your pregnancy—but many massage therapists recommend that you wait until after the first trimester. Get a massage before that might backfire and leave you feeling nauseous and dizzy.
(These symptoms can crop up at any point. Regardless of what trimester you’re in, don’t be shy about letting the therapist know if you’re uncomfortable or in pain. And if the symptoms are severe, chat with your doctor.)
Also, while there is no proven link between massage and miscarriages, many therapists err on the side of caution by avoiding the first trimester.
So, though most medical experts say massage is safe at any time in your pregnancy, you have the final say in what is best for your body.
Is it safe to get a massage while pregnant?
While prenatal massage definitely comes with a promising list of pros, it also comes with a few caveats—most notably that the science is young on this one. There is some discussion, for example, about whether activating certain pressure points may induce contractions—although there’s no conclusive evidence of this.
Also, If you have preeclampsia, a history of preterm labor, or your pregnancy is being monitored very closely, talk with your doctor to see if a pregnancy massage is the best thing for you.
In any case, all pregnant women should avoid these things when getting a massage:
- Aromatherapy oils. Some are safe and some are not, so best to avoid them altogether.
- Lying on your back. This can put pressure on your vena cava, which is the blood vessel that takes blood back to your heart from all over the body. Best to lay on your side or face down (on a special table), or sit or recline in an upright position.
Also, if you go for any sort of massage that’s not specifically billed as a prenatal massage, let your massage therapist know that you’re pregnant.
The bottom line: in most cases, prenatal massage is not only a safe practice but a highly beneficial one. This is self-care that really matters. Enjoy, mama.