So you found out you're expecting - what now? You likely have or will experience a flood of all sorts of different emotions. And let's be honest, they're not ALWAYS all positive emotions! If you're anything like me, I had days and weeks and months to think about many things including the thought of getting a massage while pregnant. Even being a massage therapist myself, I had questions and concerns! Is it safe for the baby? Can I still lay on my belly? What are the benefits versus risks? Deep down, I knew that research shows that me and baby will be A-okay with some considerations, but my biggest question was this....
Will it even feel good?
The answer should be a resounding YES! But, if I can give you an honest answer, I have had my fair share of prenatal massages that have left me disappointed. It discouraged me from seeking care for my aching body through my pregnancies, because although I had lots to be worked on, I did not always feel like my complaints were being properly addressed.
Rewind to before I had received my first prenatal massage, and I was optimistic about getting them through my pregnancy because I knew about all the benefits (decreased pain, improved sleep, improved mood, assists in preparation for labour, and more!), so I excitedly booked my first prenatal massage! Although it was relaxing, it was far from what I had hoped for. I wasn’t given a proper number of pillows (while laying on your side, your knees should be level with your hips; that requires more than just one pillow!), I didn’t feel like I was being given enough pressure, and my main problem spots seemed to be brushed over.
Part of this was on me - I should have spoken up! Your massage therapist WANTS you to speak up about how they can do better, because unfortunately we don’t know for sure what feels best for YOU!
After that day, I made it my mission to ensure that I would be a therapist who would give a great prenatal massage and that's what I'm set out to do!
WHAT TO EXPECT IN YOUR:
If you are receiving a massage in your first trimester, it is important that you let your massage therapist know that you are pregnant (remember, everything stays completely confidential!). Not much will change in terms of treatment - you can remain on your belly, as long as it’s comfortable for you (with increased breast growth, it may feel tender to lay this way for too long - Always communicate your preferences and needs with your massage therapist!). We can treat all of your concerns as usual, and maybe even add in a bit of extra relaxation to combat some of that first trimester stress and fatigue. Some areas we will stay away from is your abdomen, certain reflex points, and doing deep sacral pressure because although there’s no actual research to show that it can cause a miscarriage, the risk of natural spontaneous miscarriage is higher in the first trimester (is this even okay to say? Could it be triggering for some women?)
Whether you’re a seasoned mama or this is your first pregnancy, chances are you will start to “show” more in your second trimester. As your baby grows 11-14 inches during this trimester, your hips will start to widen and your body will adjust to your new centre of gravity, resulting in potentially new aches and pains. At this point, it will likely be most comfortable for you to lay semi-reclined or on your side, with pillows to support you in either position (laying on your back is still an option if you prefer, but we would bolster under your right hip to take pressure off of the abdomen). We can continue to treat symptoms that are specific to you, just from different positions! Second trimester is a great time to introduce belly massage if you feel like that’s right for you.
In the third trimester, your baby will almost triple in weight and double in length! This can definitely put a strain on your ever-growing body. Between nesting and naps, when you come in for a massage you can expect to be positioned on your side, semi-reclined, or seated. We will continue to treat your complaints as they arise, which will likely be at least somewhat related to the structural changes that your body is experiencing. We will be looking out for any swelling and will adjust treatment as needed!
So, is massage therapy during pregnancy all it’s cracked up to be? The answer is yes! In addition to the benefits listed above, massage during pregnancy can also decrease stress and increase relaxation, increase circulatory and lymphatic return, decrease fatigue, have a positive effect on fetal development, assist in musculoskeletal changes to your body, decrease swelling, make you more comfortable with your changing body, and aid in your connection to and enjoyment in pregnancy.
It’s important that you feel heard and seen by your massage therapist, and that you’re able to be open with them about what feels good and what doesn’t! Speak up if you need more or less pressure, if you’re uncomfortable with a position or technique, if you want us to focus more on a specific area, and with any questions or concerns!
*There are conditions in pregnancy that would require us to alter how we position you, the techniques we use, and encourage us to use other considerations. As with any massage, we ask that you keep us up to date with any changes to your health history, because this can drastically change how we approach a treatment! Ultimately, we want what’s best for you and your baby, and look forward to helping how we can!