"Wait, you can get massage when you're pregnant?" -- "Even in the first trimester?"
Yes, and yes- more often than not. The key is receiving from a trained professional who knows the indications/ contraindications of Pre/Postnatal Massage and how to best accommodate mom and baby to provide a safe and effective treatment that has her feeling the most deeply relaxed she's been in a while- maybe ever. One of the many goals of Prenatal Massage is to help mom into a weightless experience- similar to floating in a pool only on a massage table. Where her body can be held and supported by a variety of bolsters and pillows to help her not have to hold her own body up- to truly be able to let go and receive- a rarity in a momma's life. The "momma nest" I call it as it's truly like building a nest behind and around her. A nest of support, just perfect for her. Most clients, even before the massage has begun, are already feeling incredibly relaxed experiencing the nest. It encourages a deep restful feeling. It also helps take the pressure off the body and encourage lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling.
An experienced Licensed Massage Therapist with advanced training in Pre/Postnatal Massage will know how to position her client in the safest most effective ways to keep blood flow to the baby strong and prevent vasovagal responses. A vasovagal (dizzy/ fainting) response can occur if a mom is all the way flat on her back with legs flat for extended time as the weight from the uterus/ baby can put pressure on important arteries. Having mom propped up in a semi reclined with knees elevated or side lying position encourages a healthy blood flow to mom & baby. Normally, I spend a little less time with mom on her right side as the blood flow to baby is slightly less in this position. Unless mom has specific recommendations from her provider to not be in certain positions, these positions are safe. Treatment is optimized when we are able to work on all areas of the body- head, neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, legs and feet. YES feet too! That is another question I've received a lot - the myth of avoiding foot massage during pregnancy. There are specific labor points to avoid during pregnancy and to activate these points deep consistent pressure is applied in a rhythmic way. General massage on the ankles and feet, safe and feels amazing!
Back pain, hip pain, rib pain, sciatic pain, neck shoulder tension- the list goes on for all the ways physically massage can help prep for and recover from labor/ birth. Receiving prenatal massage on a regular basis contributes to a healthier pregnancy, feelings of well-being, reduction of stress, better sleep, and improvement in energy. Physical touch is one of the first languages we speak and important to go back to when feeling stressed, overwhelmed, scared, or overexerted as it is one of the most primal of needs. Prenatal massage can also help contribute to smoother, shorter labors. The less restricted and more aligned you are in your body the "easier" time baby can have on the descent. "Does this also apply for cesarean birth?" Of course. I've supported many moms up until and during recovery from planned and unplanned Cesarean births.
"I'm so uncomfortable and restless at night, have restless leg syndrome or cramping- can massage help?" Yes to all. Pre/postnatal massage can greatly help support mom into more restful sleep as the less pain, swelling, or cramping occurring the easier it is to relax. Another aspect I offer to my clients is "sleep position coaching"- just a quick run through of how to best support sleep positions as the bodies needs change. Many times it's finding the right supports for your body which is not always the enormous pregnancy pillow. Sometimes it's multiple pillows with different densities and wedges. It may seem like a lot in the beginning but once you get the hang of transitioning (side to side) it becomes second nature. The relaxation effects from the massage also help to ease sleep challenges.
"Can I receive if I'm considered a High Risk Pregnancy?" Usually yes, but it depends, and sometimes no. This is something to always consult with your provider about. Being considered High Risk is a pretty broad category. Knowing the reasons why you're high risk is important. I have worked with many high risk pregnancies for a variety of reasons with provider consent. It's an important question to ask as receiving massage can have a great impact on the comfort of your pregnancy, reducing stress levels, and postpartum recovery. And again, making sure you're going to a knowledgeable professional in Pre/Postnatal Massage so that any modifications needed can be made.
"How often is best to come in for Pre/Postnatal Massage?" Again, It all depends on your specific needs. I've worked prenatally anywhere from weekly, to bi-weekly, to monthly. Most common is bi-weekly- coinciding perfectly with Chiropractic care. Weekly is usually when the needs are greater or you're getting really close to giving birth. Ideally we can work up until the day before delivery. I'm also trained to provide in-labor massage and postnatal we can work together as soon as you're comfortable to receive. Checking with your provider is recommended in case there are any further modifications needed or important things to know.
There are many additional ways Pre/Postnatal Massage can benefit the mind/body/soul connection- the ones listed today are the most common ones and questions I've received. Any further more specific questions feel free to reach out and as always check in with your provider.
Author Ashleigh Dundas is the owner of Massage Loft New England in Norwell, MA.
To connect with her please visit: https://www.massageloftne.com/