Last night I had two back to back prenatal massages, one only a week until her due date followed by one only 16 weeks pregnant.
The first one, oh so beautiful in her last trimester but so ready to finally go into labor soon. She had never had a prenatal massage before, she loved it and she wished that she had been getting massages throughout her entire pregnancy.
The second, so very happy to be pregnant following a partial hysterectomy and just coming into the discomforts of her changing body.
Her Changing Body:
When a woman is pregnant her body is in a constant state of change in preparation for the birth process. A hormone called Relaxin loosens ligaments and the SI joints to help widen the pelvis. This can sometimes lead to low back and SI discomfort.
It is also not uncommon for women to experience sciatica in later stages of pregnancy as her changing body and the pressure of her baby can irritate the sciatic nerve.
A woman’s body also produces hormones that effects the clotting factor to prevent her from losing too much blood when giving birth. Because of that we do not use deep tissue on the back of a pregnant woman’s legs as she is more prone to blood clots at this time.
In later stages of pregnancy she may experience swelling of the feet and legs, but if that swelling is mostly on one side that can be an indication that there may be some problems and that should be addressed with her doctor.
How Massage Can Help:
- Reduces muscle and joint discomfort
- Provids needed relaxation
- Improve sleep
- Help minimize foot and leg swelling
- Improves circulation
- Help move lymphatic fluids
- Minimizes anxiety and stress
Contraindications and Precautions:
Hot stone therapy and aroma therapies are often avoided at this time as they can effect blood pressure and in some cases can effect hormone levels.
Some use of aromatherapy have been shown to be safe during pregnancy (such as lavender oil) but due to the highly concentrated nature of essential oils it is often suggested that aromatherapy should be avoided at this time and avoided all together in the first trimester.
High risk pregnancies such as preeclampsia or a history of blood clots should avoid getting massage until after delivery.
Many therapists may refuse to massage a woman in her first trimester because that is a time in which miscarriages are most common and it is always best to be cautious.
In the second trimester it is not uncommon to do some of the massage supine (face up) as long as the client is still comfortable laying on her back, but by the third trimester the massage needs to be done in the side lying position.
Pregnancy massage cushioning systems are sometimes used by some therapists and spas in the second and part of the third trimester, but if at any time the client feels uncomfortable it is always best to perform the massage side lying.
Always remember that if at any time you or your client feel uncomfortable in any way about the massage it is always better to err on the side of caution.