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Pregnancy massage—benefits and risks

Pregnant woman receiving a safe pregnancy massage

Pregnancy comes with its fair share of aches and pains and a massage is a great way to find relief and to relax.

But is massage during pregnancy safe? Are there certain techniques that aren’t recommended? And just what are the benefits of pregnancy massage anyway?

Pregnancy massage—tips, risks and benefits

What are the benefits of a massage during pregnancy?

Your feet are swollen, your lower back is aching and your legs are tired. It is no wonder many pregnant women indulge in a massage during their pregnancy.

Pregnancy massage is pretty much the same as a regular massage—it aims to relax the muscles, reduce pain, increase circulation and improve your wellbeing. But a trained pregnancy massage practitioner will also tailor the massage to focus on those pregnancy-specific needs and complaints.

A pregnancy massage may:

  • help reduce back and leg pain.
  • help improve mood and emotional wellbeing.
  • help decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • help improve sleep.

Is massage safe in pregnancy?

It is a good idea to chat to your doctor or midwife before you book a pregnancy massage. They will know your medical history and will be able to give you advice based on your circumstances. They may even be able to recommend a few good prenatal massage therapists in your area.

Once you’ve got the go ahead from your health care provider make sure you find a local massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage. Don’t be afraid to ask about their qualifications or training.

You may have heard that some therapists recommend waiting until the end of your first trimester before having a pregnancy massage. This is usually just a precaution because the risk of miscarriage is higher in the first trimester. There is no proven link between massage and miscarriage.

You should avoid massages in pregnancy if you have a high-risk pregnancy, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, a history of preterm birth, or sudden swelling. Always talk to your health care professional first.

How is pregnancy massage different?

The most obvious difference between a regular massage and pregnancy massage is your positioning. For obvious reasons pregnant women—especially as they progress through the trimesters— can’t lie face down. The favoured position for a pregnancy massage is lying on your side.

Before you book a pregnancy massage you should ask the therapist what position they usually favour. You should also ask if they use essential oils and aromatherapy. It is safest to ask for a unscented massage as some essential oils aren’t recommended for use during pregnancy.

What about massage during labour?

Massage is a great way to help reduce pain during labour – especially lower back pain. It can also help a labouring mother feel more calm and less stressed. It is also a great way for a birth partner to play a part in the labour and birth.

Of course not all women in labour will like being touched or massaged and some may like it in the early stages of labour but not as it progresses. Always ask first and stop when you’re asked.

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