Pregnancy is a time for both celebration and anticipation by family and friends. We expectantly watch for the newest Facebook photos of the growing baby belly and updates on ultrasound results. There’s an excitement surrounding the purchasing of cute baby clothes and the choosing of a name. While the community celebrates the anticipation of this new baby the mom and baby are going through some real and sometimes unpleasant changes with each new day of the pregnancy.
Pregnancy brings with it the challenges of weight gain, fatigue and hormonal fluctuations. Every pregnant mom wishes for some much needed relief from the aches and pains associated with the growth of her baby. According to recent studies by the Touch Research Institute regular doses of massage therapy may be a pregnant girl’s best friend, and doctors are also chiming in on its measurable benefits.
When Can I Receive A Pregnancy Massage?
You can receive a pregnancy massage through all three trimesters unless there are specific complications to your particular pregnancy. If so massage may still be received with approval by your doctor. For the majority of women however, pregnancy massage is a natural way of supporting the health of both mom and baby throughout the full term of her pregnancy.
First Trimester – Although our pregnant clients may not be bearing the aches and pains of the later trimesters they are undergoing many hormonal and life changes. Massage therapy has been shown to assist in the stabilization of hormones while increasing the happy hormones and decreasing anxiety. Keeping stress levels down is great for baby’s health too as cortisol (a stress hormone) is suspected to alter the development of the fetal brain. Keeping mom stress free is preventative health for mom and baby.
Second Trimester – At this stage of pregnancy a trained pregnancy massage therapist will begin to reposition their pregnant clients with cushions in order to compensate for the growth of the client’s growing baby belly. Look for a massage therapy center that has specialized cushioning systems that accommodate lying down comfortably on your belly throughout the pregnancy. Being able to comfortably lie on your belly during your massage will allow your therapist to relieve tension in your back and glutes most effectively. If a therapist does not have a specialized cushioning system or you prefer to receive your massage while not lying on your belly then be sure that they are proficient at side lying techniques.
Third Trimester – Mom’s feet, knees and back can be quite uncomfortable in this last trimester of pregnancy and the hands of a well-trained massage therapist can give mom a much needed respite from this discomfort. Many times women will experience discomfort in their low back that may travel down their legs. This is sometimes called sciatica and can be due partly to the uterus resting on muscles of the pelvic floor and back and the new displacement of weight in her body. The piriformis muscle is of particular concern with this issue and can easily be addressed by a well-trained massage therapist. Pregnancy massage also increases the circulation of blood and lymph and this allows for baby to receive a healthy dose of blood and nutrients while decreasing mom’s sensations of edema and heaviness in her legs and feet.
Postpartum – As soon as 24 hours after giving birth moms can enjoy the health benefits of massage therapy care. After giving birth there are new hormone shifts, body changes and the issues of sleep deprivation to contend with. Postpartum massage can offer mom a healthy dose of relaxation and support as she embarks upon the 9 month journey back to her original form.
How Do I Choose A Pregnancy Massage Therapist?
Be sure to ask the following questions: Are they trained in pregnancy massage? How often do they work with pregnant clients? Are they aware of the uterine contraction points to avoid during your pregnancy massage? Do they have a supportive cushioning system such as the “Prego Pillow” to allow for pregnant women to be safely positioned through the later stages of pregnancy? Do they have hours that accommodate your busy schedule so that you can fit in your increasing number of doctors’ visits while still having time to fit in your massage therapy care? Do they offer online gift certificate purchasing so that your out of state baby shower guests can easily purchase you a package of massage therapy sessions?
So the next time you are looking for that perfect baby shower gift, or you are embarking upon a pregnancy journey of your own, consider massage therapy as a regular part of your prenatal care plan.
Kim Jacques is the President and owner of Revelation Massage at 600 Turner Street in Auburn. Kim has been teaching Pregnancy Massage to massage therapists since 2001. Kim and her staff have offered pregnancy massage in the Lewiston/Auburn Community since their opening in 2011. Learn more on their website at www.revelationmassage.com.