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Pregnancy Massage: Comprehensive Guide to Benefits, Techniques, & Relief

Updated: Feb 6

Pregnancy massage therapy works as an umbrella term, meaning massage therapy during any point of pregnancy - it has also been referred to as prenatal/postnatal massage and can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Naturally, the body undergoes many changes during pregnancy which can temporarily impact the relationship to the body's regular functions. We will be discussing the general benefits of massage therapy during pregnancy and techniques that are used to optimize those benefits. Pregnancy is a different experience for everyone, which can change what will work best to treat discomfort and that should be considered when reading the following.


1. What is a Prenatal Massage?

A prenatal massage is a therapeutic bodywork method intended exclusively for pregnant women to address the unique physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. Prenatal massages are targeted to pregnant moms' needs and safety concerns and are performed by registered massage therapists. These massages relieve common pregnant discomforts such as back pain, edema, and muscle tightness. Gentle, soothing strokes are frequently used in prenatal massage techniques to encourage relaxation and stress alleviation while considering the individual's stage of pregnancy and avoiding pressure areas that may be harmful.


2. What are the Benefits of Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage, also known as pregnancy massage, offers numerous benefits to expectant mothers. It can significantly reduce stress, alleviate muscle tension, and improve overall well-being. As this tends to be a time when the mind and body is altered from the usually state of being, pursuing forms of self-care can be a way to support your well-being and maintain optimal health.


The experience of pregnancy is vast and specific to each person, however there are general shared experiences. A few examples may be, body discomfort, swelling, anxiety, body aches and pain, headaches, stress, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, etc.


The Benefits Pregnancy Massage May Include:

  • Improve sleep

  • Ease tension in the body

  • Decrease stress and promote a sense of relaxation

  • Pain relief

  • Increase sense of well-being

Overall, if you are experiencing discomfort during pregnancy, speak with your doctor to help determine if massage therapy would be beneficial for you.


3. When is the Best time to get a Pregnancy Massage?

The best time to get a pregnancy massage is during the second and third trimesters when discomfort is often more pronounced. It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a certified pregnancy massage therapist to determine the most suitable time for you.


4. What Types of Massage Techniques are used during Pregnancy Massage?

Specialized prenatal massage techniques are frequently used to ensure the relief of back pain and comfort of pregnant moms. Swedish massage is popular for promoting relaxation and relieving muscle tension due to its smooth strokes. Deep tissue massage can be tailored to address specific areas of tightness or discomfort, employing firmer pressure within the pregnant woman's comfort. Reflexology, which focuses on pressure points in the hands and feet, can help with typical pregnancy-related symptoms like edema and fatigue.


5. Can Pregnancy Massage help with Specific Discomforts such as Back Pain or Swelling?

Yes, pregnancy massage is highly effective in alleviating specific discomforts such as back pain, swelling, and joint pain. By using targeted techniques, a skilled therapist can provide relief and enhance overall comfort during pregnancy.


6. How can the Discomforts of Pregnancy be Prevented or Relieved?

The discomforts of pregnancy can be prevented or relieved through regular pregnancy massage sessions, proper exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate rest. A well-rounded approach to prenatal care includes engaging in appropriate exercises approved by a healthcare specialist to strengthen the body and relieve stress. A well-balanced diet high in nutrients is critical for both the mother's and baby's health. Adequate rest and sleep are both essential in meeting the body's changing needs throughout pregnancy. These elements, when combined, enhance physical comfort, emotional well-being, and overall pregnancy wellbeing.


Techniques for Pregnancy Massage Therapy

Depending on the stage of pregnancy will determine how someone would be positioned on the massage table. Usually, during the second or third trimester is when the side-lying position, pillows, and/or bolster methods are used to provide treatment in a more suited and comfortable way. The side-lying position, more specifically laying on the left side is ideal, as it is best for maximum cardiac function and fetal oxygenation, to carry enough nutrients through the blood to the fetus. Pressure throughout the massage is modified to the individual's needs and preference.


Registered massage therapists at Thrive Urban Wellness are trained in pregnancy massage therapy techniques and use their expertise to actively adjust treatment according to the needs and changing body of the people they treat. Pregnancy massage carries a scope of notable benefits, as it may relieve discomfort through the means of self-care.






References:


Massage Therapy and Pregnancy | Massage Therapy Journal. (n.d.). American Massage


Massage Therapy and Pregnancy | Massage Therapy Journal. (n.d.). American Massage Therapy Association. https://www.amtamassage.org/publications/massage-therapy-journal/massage-and-pregnancy-a-powerful-combination/


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