Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?

During a healthy pregnancy, and if the Mum-to-be is generally in good health herself, then massage is safe and can also be a wonderful addition to prenatal care.

Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. And in most cases, it is safe and beneficial to receive massage up to and beyond the due date of the pregnancy.

Some establishments will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because they wish to avoid any liability due to the increased risk of miscarriage during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, unless it’s a high-risk pregnancy, there is no physiological reason to avoid massage in the first trimester, as your uterus is still the size of a plum and protected by the bony structure of the pelvis.

Are there circumstances when massage during pregnancy isn’t advisable?

There are some instances when massage may not be appropriate, particularly if it is a high-risk pregnancy or you have certain health conditions.

So it’s always advisable to check with your doctor or midwife before having a massage.

How is pregnancy massage different to regular massage?

If you have had a massage before, then you know how great it feels. But pregnancy massage is a little different. For example, the positioning during the massage is critical to the safety and well-being of both the mother and the baby. The therapist will also have to adjust their strokes and techniques to accommodate the pregnancy. The massage is always tailored to meet individual requirements.

What position will I be in during a massage?

The best position during massage is on your side with pillows for support, which provides the most stability for the baby and is also most comfortable for you. The massage table is also designed to be propped up so that you can be on your back in a semi-seated position. It can also be elevated at the legs to reduce swelling (NB: This is also a safe position to lie in during pregnancy as it does not put weight on the major blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart.)

What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?

Pregnancy massage has been found to relieve back, muscle and joint pain, sciatica, leg cramps, headaches and reduce swelling and stress. It is a popular alternative for pain relief, as medications are often limited. (Please read our article on Pregnancy Massage for more information.)

Does my abdomen get massaged?

Here at TenPhysio we do not massage the abdomen during pregnancy, unless it is requested. We do however believe that it is a wonderful thing for the expectant mother to massage her own abdomen, as it can be ideal for the start of the mother-baby bond.

What clothing do I wear for massage? Do I have to be undressed?

Pregnancy massage can be performed with as much or as little clothing as you’re comfortable wearing – it’s always a personal decision. Usually we recommend that you keep underwear on, and we use towels for coverage so only the parts that are being massaged are exposed.

Is massage painful?

On tight and irritated areas, massage therapy can be uncomfortable and cause soreness the following day; this is sometimes necessary to release tension. The pressure of the massage can however be as light or as deep as is needed. It is important that you always feel comfortable and enjoy the treatment. If something doesn’t feel right, inform your therapist immediately.

Which massage oils do you use?

At TenPhysio we use grape seed oil with no added essential oils. Grape seed oil is one of the best oils to use during pregnancy, as it’s perfect for massage and yet doesn’t leave greasy or sticky residue.

We recommend avoiding the use of essential oils during pregnancy. This is purely a precautionary measure, and is simply because you may not always know the chemical composition of the oils, or what effect – if any – they could have on a developing baby.

How often should I have a massage when I am pregnant?

This is entirely up to you. Each woman and each pregnancy is different, so there is no standard answer for this question. If you’re having a difficult pregnancy, with back and muscular pain, leg cramps, sleeplessness and/or swelling we recommend coming once a week in the last trimester.

How soon can I come back after the baby is born?

If it was a healthy pregnancy and delivery without any major complication, a massage can safely be given as soon as you feel ready. However, if you have a caesarean-section you will usually need to wait at least 6 weeks for the scar tissue to heal.

Are there any parts of my body that shouldn’t be massaged during pregnancy?

During the first trimester the abdomen and deep work on the lower back should be avoided.

There are acupressure points on feet and hands that are known to stimulate contractions, but only if they are worked specifically and accurately. Gentle massage to assist with swelling or joint pain is safe for most women. The exception to this is that if you have had pre-term contractions, the ankles should be avoided entirely – just in case.

How much does a massage treatment cost?

Pregnancy massage is set at the same price as regular massage (after all, it doesn’t seem fair to charge you more just because there are two of you). Usually we recommend a 60-minute massage, which is £70. If you are not sure and want to try a shorter massage first, a 30-minute session costs £45. And if you think you need a little longer, a 90-minute session is £100.

We also offer a course of 5 massages at a discount of 10% per massage, which can work really well if you are planning to have regular massages during your pregnancy.

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