Prenatal, Post-Partum Massage
Massage during pregnancy can provide a variety of benefits, starting with relaxation. Carrying a baby to term can be a grueling and stressful experience. Sometimes just having a quiet hour with soothing music in the background is enough to get through the day. As the pregnancy continues, the strain placed on the body grows concurrently with the baby thanks to hips shifting, hormones rebalancing, and weight fluctuating. Therapists who provide or specialize in prenatal work bring much-needed mental relief from the rigors of pregnancy, especially in the last trimester.
Along with mental stress and relaxation, massage has been proven in multiple studies to be an effective pain management option. Common issues associated with pregnancy like low back and neck pain, swelling, and body aches can also be addressed with massage.
This allows for treatment of pain in lieu of medications that would be contraindicated for prenatal patients. Not only that, but for those who wish to maintain their physical activity (within the boundaries agreed upon by their physician), prenatal massage in combination with a sports massage therapist can also help keep the patient comfortably active. Research has shown that maintaining physical fitness and strength during pregnancy alleviates many discomforts and can help with delivery and postpartum recovery.
What’s Different About Prenatal Massage?
There are not many differences between a typical massage session and a prenatal session. However, therapists are trained to take certain precautions when doing prenatal work. Chief among them, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, is that lying prone on the table is not physically possible without the use of specialized pads. The majority of sessions are performed in a side-lying position and/or supine on a wedge to prop the patient up at an angle.
We also want to be sure blood pressure doesn’t rise too high. We ask that if a patient feels dizzy or light-headed during a massage to notify their therapist so that we may avoid any complications that could arise from an increase in blood pressure.
Lastly, though many massage modalities employ the use of passive motion and stretching, it is contraindicated to perform those techniques at any point during pregnancy. This is due to the shifting hormones and presence of relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the body’s ligaments during pregnancy. This creates a minor risk of overextending a joint during the session, so those techniques are generally avoided.
Is Massage Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes. Even for those considered high-risk, provided a patient has consulted with their doctor and been given the green light. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, the risks involved for massage during pregnancy are increased blood pressure and risk of preeclampsia. Though the research on massage and high-risk pregnancy is scarce, some doctors err on the side of caution and recommend waiting until the second trimester to receive prenatal massage.
How Soon Can I Get Prenatal Massage?
Some physicians caution against receiving massage during the first trimester, and many clinics won’t take patients during that phase. Pregnancies classified as high-risk are contraindicated for massage for the first twelve weeks. Because the risks associated with high blood pressure are significantly higher for both patient and child during this time frame, it is recommended that patients wait until the start of the second trimester before receiving massage. After that, however, massage is indicated all the way up through the day of delivery provided the patient has a continued green light from their OB/GYN. In fact, there are some specialties within prenatal massage that can be done during labor to ease the birthing process.
How Soon After Delivery Can I Get a Massage?
In some instances, immediately after. Provided the birth went well and without complications, a patient could receive massage as early as the day after. In fact, some facilities will even provide massages the same day. There aren’t many contraindications with post-partum massage and most considerations are based on the patient’s comfort and how they want to lay. There are some more stringent considerations after a cesarian, like the inability to lay prone.
Are you pregnant and in need of some soothing touch or pain relief? Book your prenatal or postpartum appointment with one of our prenatal specialists.