While the benefits of prenatal massage have certainly been established, there are some precautions to take. Massage during the first trimester is strongly discouraged due to the higher risk of miscarriage. When you do find a certified massage therapist who specializes in pregnancy massage, it is important to discuss what position you will be in during the massage. The American Pregnancy Association recommends a side-lying position, as laying on your back is discouraged after 20 weeks, and special tables with holes for a growing belly can still put pressure on the abdomen and strain uterine ligaments. If you have an increased risk of preterm labor, or if you experience a significant number of Braxton Hicks contractions, prenatal massage is also discouraged as certain pressure points can increase pelvic and uterine contractions in many women.
Discuss with your massage therapist what your goal of pregnancy massage is. If your aim is to reduce aches and pains associated with pregnancy, you will do well with a therapist who can safely target problem areas like the lower back and certain parts of the legs. Use care when having your legs massaged, as again it can begin uterine contractions if performed improperly. If your goal is to simply relax and get a mood booster, a massage therapist who can create a relaxing and serene environment will be highly beneficial to you.
Pregnancy massage is a wonderful treat for a mom-to-be. It offers extensive emotional, mental, and physical benefits to pregnant women. It has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol levels in women, which decreases the risk of preterm labor. It has also showed to increase levels of dopamine in a woman’s brain, which is a feel-good hormone. Low levels of dopamine have been linked to depression in pregnancy, thus raising the levels reduces incidents of depression among pregnant women. Prenatal massage has also shown to increase circulation, which leads to less swelling in women who are prone to retain fluid, as well as relieve the aches and pains associated with a changing center of gravity and increased weight. Overall, the American Pregnancy Association encourages moms to engage in massage during pregnancy unless there are specific medical conditions which are contraindicated.