How to Use Prenatal Massage Techniques
The University of Miami School of Medicine conducted a study that demonstrated prenatal massage techniques can help pregnant women sleep better. Massages during pregnancy can also improve anxiety, decrease pain in legs and hips and manage stress hormones. Keeping the mother and baby safe should be the first priority of any prenatal massage. Use prenatal massage techniques by working with the proper equipment, utilizing light pressure and paying attention to the changes that a pregnant woman's body is undergoing.
Wait until your second trimester to have a prenatal massage.The highest risk of miscarriage is during weeks 1 to 12 of a pregnancy, so most massage therapists avoid massaging women in their first trimester.
Lay on your side for a prenatal massage.There are specialty tables available with a uterus-sized cutout to allow a woman to lay on her stomach, but those tables can still apply dangerous pressure to the abdomen and pull on uterine ligaments.
- Use pillows to prop yourself on your side. Specialty pillows for prenatal massages are called bolsters.
- Have a massage sitting in a chair if it is more comfortable for you to sit. You do not need to be laying down to enjoy prenatal massage techniques.
Work with a massage therapist who is experienced in prenatal massage.There are practitioners who are certified in this type of massage. Special training is offered on techniques that are safe and beneficial to pregnant women.
- Ask your massage therapist about certification or training in prenatal techniques. Each state has different standards and there is no national certification or program.
Avoid the pressure points in ankles and wrists.Prenatal massage should never include pressure on the areas that stimulate the uterus and the pelvis. Massaging the ankles and wrists is a technique often used to induce labor naturally.
Adjust to lighter strokes during your massage.Prenatal techniques will involve less pressure than a Swedish massage or a deep tissue massage or any type of massage you might get when you are not pregnant.
Watch the amount of pressure applied to your legs.The amount of blood a pregnant body produces is much higher, and the level of anticoagulants in the blood is also increased while the body prepares for labor and delivery.
- Avoid the calves and inner thighs. When you are pregnant, your risk of blood clots increases and strong massaging of your lower legs and inner thighs could dislodge a clot.
- Make sure all leg strokes move towards the heart. This prenatal technique will keep your circulation healthy and your risks low.
Keep the abdomen off limits.Most massage therapists will not touch the belly at all. If you do want your massage to include your stomach, the technique should be nothing more than light fingertips on the skin with no pressure.
- Talk to your prenatal caregiver prior to having a massage. Your doctor or midwife might have recommendations on how to benefit from a prenatal massage, and could also offer a referral.
- Ask your spouse or partner for a gentle neck or back massage while you are pregnant. Not only will this help you to feel more relaxed, it will also maintain some intimacy that might be missing in your relationship during pregnancy.
- Discuss risks with your doctor. If you are a high risk pregnancy, you have preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension, you may not be a candidate for massage, even when prenatal techniques are used.
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