Pregnancy Massage FAQ

Pregnancy massage FAQ, by Sheila Resari

Is this a belly massage?

“In the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (past the first trimester and into the second), I avoid abdominal massage for safety to the growing baby. After 20 weeks, I typically include Maya Abdominal Therapy techniques for gentle abdominal attention.  The primary areas where women want and need massage during pregnancy often include the low back, shoulders, and legs.  These places may become tense and sore with a changing, growing body.”

Do you use a table or cushion with cutouts for my belly?

“I don’t recommend lying face down, or prone, once your belly protrudes beyond the support of the hip bones.  In general, this means after the first trimester. Receiving massage face down may increases the pressure within the uterus and add strain to the uterine ligaments. I prefer to get my clients pillowed into a side-lying or semi-reclined position, where both mom and baby are supported in comfort and safety.  Clients who may be uncomfortable in their own beds are surprised by how at ease they feel on the table. You may come away with some new ideas for your at-home comfort.”

Is massage safe for all pregnancies?

“Some health conditions require medical clearance before proceeding with massage.  To find out more, give me a call to see what might fall under the category of high risk.”

Is deep tissue massage safe during pregnancy?

“I take utmost care is to avoid the caution areas for pregnant clients.  Sometimes that means using broader pressure, or lighter pressure.  Careful application of deep tissue massage is still safe in many areas of the body, including the shoulders, upper chest, back, glutes, outer legs, and feet. Stretches can be safely applied to pregnant moms, and they can really help relieve aches and stiffness.

How often should I receive massage while I am pregnant?

“Every woman and every pregnancy is different.  In general, if you’ve decided to make massage a part of your prenatal care, I suggest coming in once a month during your first trimester, and twice a month during your second and third. You may find it helpful to sync your massages to your schedule of prenatal visits. To alleviate more intense pain or discomfort, consider scheduling a weekly session for the last trimester or extending your session to 90 minutes.  Receiving massage in the weeks following your birth (post-partum) will help facilitate your recovery as well. The physical stresses of breast feeding and holding the baby can be alleviated with massage. You can offset the investment of scheduling regular massage by purchasing a package.”

What are the benefits of massage during pregnancy?

“Prenatal bodywork…

  • Helps reduce stress
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Reduce edema and blood pressure
  • Relieves varicose veins
  • Increases blood and lymph circulation
  • Alleviates musculoskeletal pain and strain
  • Improves your body awareness as you prepare for birth
  • Can contribute to a shorter, less painful labor, with fewer complications and a lower rate of prematurity.”

“Studies show that prenatal massage is beneficial for both mom and baby.”

Can I get a prenatal massage from any massage therapist?

“Many massage schools teach their students basic guidelines for working with pregnant clients.  I have added additional training that goes beyond the basics in order to address the specific needs of pregnant women, safely and effectively.  I earned a pregnancy certification through Carole Osborne’s Body Therapy Associates here in Portland, Oregon. I then took an advanced prenatal and post-partum course in the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abominal Therapy. Both delved into the physiological, emotional, and structural changes of pregnancy; the possible complications and risks; and the techniques developed especially to help alleviate your physical and emotional stresses. I also took a class at the Baan Jaai Center in Portland, Oregon, to add traditional Thai techniques for pregnancy to my toolbox.”

“Massage is a supportive addition to, not a replacement for, the regular prenatal care from your midwife or physician.”

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