Picture shows a pregnant woman's abdomen

Pregnancy massage

I’m so pleased to be able to offer a new treatment: massage during pregnancy. Despite being a qualified therapist, I’ve had to turn pregnant clients away up until now - but having undertaken additional training, I am now able to offer treatment to clients in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Having experienced the benefits of pregnancy massage myself, I can’t wait to start sharing them with local mums-to-be! So what’s different about this massage, and how could it benefit you - or the pregnant lady in your life? Read on to find out more.

What is pregnancy massage

Pregnancy massage is, quite simply, massage delivered to an expectant mother. The therapist uses aids such as pillows and bolsters to ensure that the client can lie comfortably, and alters their techniques to allow for the many physical changes that a woman experiences during this time.

Pregnancy can be an amazing and exciting time, but it can also be challenging, emotionally and physically. A woman’s body goes through huge changes as her pregnancy progresses. Her uterus will grow to 5-6 times its pre-pregnancy size - and 20 times its weight. The volume of blood in her body will increase by 35 - 50%, and as a result her cardiac output will increase by up to 80%. She will consume 15 - 20% more oxygen than usual, affecting her respiratory rate. Her posture will change to accommodate her growing bump, and hormonal changes will cause her ligaments to become loose - this allows the pelvis to expand to give birth, but can also affect the joints.  All these changes - plus others - have led scientists to declare pregnant women to be facing a similar level of physical challenge to extreme athletes such as Ironman competitors!

With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that pregnant women often feel fatigued, and can experience a whole range of aches and pains. Pregnancy massage aims to address these. It’s different from the sports massages I usually deliver - the kind of deep tissue work that a sports massage entails wouldn’t be comfortable or helpful during pregnancy at all. However, this more gentle treatment can be just as effective.

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Who can benefit from pregnancy massage?

Pregnant woman receiving massage treatment with oil dispenser in the foreground

Most pregnant women can safely receive massage once their pregnancy has progressed past 12 weeks gestation. There are some conditions which can make pregnancy massage inadvisable; these are ruled out with a pre-appointment consultation form. I also require pregnant clients to seek confirmation from their healthcare provider (GP or midwife) that you are able to safely receive massage therapy.

Once those checks are complete, then I’ll be able to welcome you into my quiet garden treatment room, so that you can put your feet up and take some well-deserved time out for yourself.

What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?

A gentle massage releases endorphins into the bloodstream - these feel-good hormones promote a sense of wellbeing and contentment, which is beneficial to both mother and baby. The woman will benefit from muscle relaxation and the release of tension, which should in turn relieve aches and pains. Massage also increases the circulation of blood around the body, allowing the baby to benefit from an increased rate of nutrient delivery via the placenta.

Pregnancy massage can also bring other benefits, including:

Is pregnancy massage safe?

Most pregnant women are able to receive massage safely after 12 weeks gestation, provided that their therapist has - like me - completed additional training and gained the appropriate insurance to treat pregnant women. There are certain conditions, either pre-existing or arising in pregnancy, which can make massage inadvisable - these include (but are not limited to) pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), placenta previa or obstetric cholestasis. I check for these conditions in my consultation form, which is completed before every appointment, and also ask all my pregnant clients to seek confirmation from their midwife or GP that they can safely receive treatment.

Pregnancy can also lead to increased skin sensitivity to products that you’d normally use without a problem - so rather than my usual massage lotion, I will be using plain grapeseed oil as the massage medium during your treatment. This is a completely natural, hypoallergenic, single-ingredient product so has a very low chance of causing any skin irritation.

What should I expect from a pregnancy massage? 

Upon booking, I will email a pre-appointment consultation form to rule out any contraindications, which you must complete before your appointment. When you arrive at my treatment room, we will have a quick chat about your pregnancy, and I will leave you to undress, then help you to make yourself comfortable on the massage table. You will begin by lying on your side, with plenty of pillows, bolsters and blankets so that you can relax completely. I will then treat your back, leg, arm, hand, foot, and  - with your consent - your bump, before asking you to sit up (with assistance if required!) and placing a wedge shaped pillow behind you so that you can lie back safely to have your face and head gently massaged. After that, you will turn to your other side, and once you are comfortable once more I will treat the other side of your back and your other leg, arm, hand and foot. You should end your treatment feeling relaxed and peaceful.

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  1. NCT
  2. Emma's Diary, Pregnancy Myths

Author Hannah Tabram. Category Blog. First published Mon, 05 Dec 2022 13:13:04 +0000