Many unfortunate myths surround receiving massage during pregnancy. These misconceptions are based on old wives’ tales and have no real basis in fact. Undoubtedly the worst of these myths is that a woman should never receive a massage during the first 3 months of her pregnancy (the first trimester). This belief arose because the chance of miscarriage occurring is greater during the first 12 weeks than at any other time.
The reasons for these early miscarriages generally have to do with fetal abnormalities or the medical condition of the mother. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, can increase the chance of miscarriage, but massage will not cause miscarriage.
Masseurs are educated to deal with every stage of pregnancy to provide a safe and healthy massage.
How Massage Helps During Pregnancy
Although anticipation of a new baby is joyful for the mother-to-be, there is no denying that pregnancy does put added stress and strain on the body. The only time when massage is not indicated is during an episode of morning sickness, but massages can be scheduled around the normal time for this inconvenience.
- As a woman’s weight increases during the pregnancy, added strain will be put on joints such as knees, ankles, and hips. Massage can help to restore flexibility to stiff and painful joints as increased circulation brings more blood to the affected areas.
- Most women will experience swelling in their ankles and legs during the later stages of pregnancy, especially during hot weather. Massage, by increasing the circulation of both blood and lymph can help reduce this uncomfortable condition. The tendons and ligaments will also be more elastic and less painful after a massage.
- Because of the wildly fluctuating levels of hormones in the woman’s body, mood changes, stress, and depression can result. Therapeutic massage is an excellent way to help stabilize the woman’s mental outlook. Endorphins are released in larger than normal quantities during massage and these ‘feel good’ hormones counter the effects of cortisol and other stress hormones that may be contributing to negative feelings.
- Backache is another side effect of pregnancy women could certainly do without. Nearly every woman experiences backache, usually towards the end of the pregnancy as the added weight puts more strain on her back. A therapeutic massage can help to unknot those painful muscles to make the woman more comfortable.
- For those suffering from prenatal headaches, there is little that can help more than a massage. Headache relieving massages are designed to bring added warmth and blood to the neck and head. Using massage for headache relief is especially important as the use of even over-the-counter pain medications is generally restricted or forbidden during pregnancy.
- Studies have shown that women who receive regular massages during their pregnancy have a better chance of bringing the baby to full term than those who do not. Massage assists in preventing premature birth as well as making for an easier labor.
- Because massage is so good at increasing circulation, more oxygen is delivered to the developing fetus as well as to the mother’s body in general.
Modern, Professional Massage Is Safe
Today’s professional masseur is able to provide safe, effective massage at any stage of pregnancy. During the first trimester, massage can be given with the woman lying on her stomach. After this lying on the side or back will be necessary, or the masseur may supply a prop. Always check with your doctor first, of course, to make sure that there are no medical issues such as eclampsia (very high blood pressure and seizures) or deep vein thrombosis, where blood clots form in the legs or pelvic region.
Once the baby is delivered, massage is valuable at helping the mother’s body return to normal as quickly as possible. Generally, massage can be resumed 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. Not only will massage help muscles regain their tone and flexibility, but will also help the new mother relax during the first hectic weeks of motherhood.