What is prenatal massage?
Prenatal massage is a type that's similar to regular massage – it aims to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and just make you feel good. But prenatal massage is also customized to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies, and therapists trained in prenatal massage adjust their techniques accordingly.
Carrying a baby inside you changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes your ligaments, meaning your pelvic joints are less stable, and it also changes your posture, pulling your pelvis forward. Add to that the extra weight you're carrying and you may end up with an aching lower back.
A trained prenatal massage therapist knows where a pregnant woman's sore and swollen spots are likely to be and may be able to provide some relief. She'll also know which techniques and areas to avoid.
What are the benefits of massage during pregnancy?
Research on the therapeutic benefits of massage for pregnant women is limited, but small studies suggest that prenatal massage may:
- Improve mood and lower stress levels
- Reduce prenatal depression and anxiety
- Lower the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight in infants of women with prenatal depression
- Reduce swelling in the legs (after foot massage)
- Better Sleep
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
Getting a pregnancy massage can also put you in a more relaxed state of mind to help you cope with all the big changes that are going on in your life.
If you decide to get a massage, it's important to tell your massage therapist which areas of your body need attention. Let her know right away if anything – including your position – causes discomfort during the massage.
When is a prenatal massage unsafe?
Having a prenatal massage may be risky in a few situations, such as if:
- You have a blood clot or a bone fracture.
- You have a skin injury or condition that could be aggravated by rubbing. These include burns, open wounds, skin infections, or eczema.
- You've had an allergic reaction to massage oils.
If you have concerns about whether it would be okay for you to have a prenatal massage, talk to your healthcare provider.