Tiffany King, CHT, CMT
Congratulations! You are pregnant, actually growing a baby in your belly. It is truly a miracle… but it’s also hard work on your body. Carrying a baby changes your center of gravity. It puts stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles and shoulders. While pregnant your ligaments also relax which destabilizes your pelvic joints and changes your posture, pulling your pelvis forward. Add weight gain to that and you may experience aching pain in your low back.
Does this mean you have to be uncomfortable for 9 months? No, pregnancy or prenatal massage can help. It is similar to regular massage in that it aims to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, and improve circulation and mobility. However, prenatal massage is a nurturing massage that focuses on pregnant women and the changing needs of their bodies. Both mom and baby can benefit from a good massage.
Benefits Of Prenatal / Pregnancy Massage
- Relieve Low Back Pain & Sciatica Caused By Pregnancy
- Lower Stress And Improve Mood
- Lower Anxiety and Prenatal Depression
- Reduce Leg Swelling
- Lower Blood Pressure and Respiratory Rate
- Increase Oxytocin Production
- Lower Prenatal Complications
- Decrease labor time
Is Prenatal Massage Safe?
First and foremost, safe prenatal or maternity massage should only be performed by a trained prenatal massage therapist. They will know about special requirements and positioning that is needed. I have had extensive training in prenatal and postpartum massage and am confident working with mamas-to-be at all stages, from conception through post-partum.
Why Side Lying?
A side lying position allows me to:
- Provide a nurturing position to allow your body to rest and recharge.
- Ensure the muscles which are already under strain from the excess load are in a relaxed position enabling me to massage more effectively to alleviate your aches and pains.
- Fully access all the muscles of the hip, to provide relief through specific massage techniques without causing increased pressure to the low back.
- Minimize strain on the uterine ligaments and lower back muscles.
- Assist to release the pelvic ligaments that are changing and shifting in preparation for labor.
- Access the lower back muscles, and the muscles wrapping from the lower back around to the growing stomach, without straining the lower back further into an excess curved position.
- Use techniques that can assist to relieve aches and pains felt around the rib cage as they expand.
- Access around and under the shoulder blade (or scapula) and between shoulder blades to relieve tension and aches.
- Access the pectoral muscles, just below the collar bone, that play a major role in the tension felt in the top of the shoulders and around the neck as your shoulders are pulled forward during pregnancy.
a side-lying pregnancy massage offers a mother-to-be the time to embrace her pregnancy and to rest, relax and recharge her body.
If you have questions about prenatal or pregnancy massage, please contact me at 916-412-3135. Ready to start enjoying the benefits of massage? Click the button below to schedule your appointment today.
Giving birth is a miraculous thing but it does put your body through a lot of stress. Starting within 5 days (I recommend definitely within the first 10), come in and let me treat you to a soothing postpartum massage. You will leave feeling rested and emotionally and physically better. We can continue to use support pillows to make the massage comfortable, and I am conscious of the things that come along with new motherhood (leaking breasts, swelling, etc.)
If you've had a C-section, please discuss the best timing with your Dr.
What About Pregnancy Massage Tables?
If you are a mom-to-be, you may hear about special cushions or pillows that go on top of a table or a "pregnancy massage table" that has special cut-out sections for your pregnant belly and breasts, allowing you to lie face down throughout your pregnancy. This sounds like a dream come true if you have been struggling to adapt to lying on your side as your pregnancy progresses, but as cozy as that might sound, these tables are not recommended. Here’s why I don't use a pregnancy massage table or cushions:
Experts in the field caution against using these tables and recommend other positions as optimal for pregnant clients.
They aren’t customizable. Your stomach grows throughout pregnancy, but the holes in prenatal massage tables and cushions are typically just one size. And when it comes to pregnancy, one size definitely does not fit all. A pregnant stomach at five months is very different from a pregnant stomach at nine months. Not to mention, your baby’s weight (and your body type) are unique and this complicates the ability of these tables to support all women.
No matter how well these tables try to support the belly, they still put women into a position in which their uterus is now suspended from their low back by an already stressed ligament structure and lumbar spine.
These stressed ligaments are often the cause of many pregnancy aches and pains that women are looking to alleviate in a prenatal massage.
Having massage applied to you while lying face down means the therapist is leaning their body weight into you. This risks increasing intrauterine pressure.
For women experiencing increased sinus congestion in their pregnancy, a prone position will put pressure on her sinuses and aggravate this discomfort during the massage.
Many women are very uncomfortable lying face down as they feel they are lying on top of their baby, despite the accommodations of the belly cut-out.
For women who are advanced in their pregnancies, it can be quite awkward to attempt to lower both your belly and breasts into these pre-cut holes and then turn over later in the massage.
They could cause more stretchmarks. Lying on your stomach can also exacerbate stretch marks during pregnancy, because the unsupported stomach on a pregnancy massage table causes the skin to stretch.
The experts at the American Pregnancy Association agree.