Can I get a massage if I’m pregnant?
Pregnancy massages have been a controversial topic for years. Recent research has shown that prenatal massage therapy can be quite beneficial to the pregnancy process both pre and post birth. There have been many benefits shown in pregnant women who receive frequent massage therapy.
Some benefits to prenatal massages:
- Improving circulation
- Reducing pain in muscles and joints
- Sleep relief
- Reduces edema
- Headache relief
- Stress relief
Pregnancy massage professionals change their techniques to address the changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy. For instance, blood volume increases dramatically – as much as 50% – during pregnancy. Blood flow to the legs often becomes sluggish. And the levels of anticoagulants in the blood – designed to prevent haemorrhaging in childbirth – naturally rise.
These circulatory changes put a pregnant woman at risk of blood clots in the lower legs, typically in the calves or inner thigh. To be safe, pregnancy massage experts avoid deep massage and strong pressure on the legs. Using strong pressure could dislodge a blood clot. Instead, they use very light, slow strokes on the legs. Types of massage to avoid on the legs include deep-tissue massage, deep acupressure, shiatsu, cross-fiber friction, and percussive tapping. All leg massage strokes should move toward the heart.
Very light pressure on the abdomen is advised, if the belly is massaged at all. Some massage therapists avoid massaging the abdomen.
Women can benefit from massages during all stages in her pregnancy, though it is recommended to wait until after the 12-week mark because of increased risk of miscarriage in that time frame. Most doctors recommend that the best position for pregnant woman getting a massage is on their side. It is also recommended to seek out professional massage therapists who are trained in prenatal massage.