What is Pregnancy Massage?
Pregnancy massage - also known as pre-natal massage - promotes relaxation and bonding, soothes nerves, and relieves a strained back and tired muscles in expectant mothers.
Massage has been shown to ease pain and reduce anxiety in the first stage of labour. It can help you to cope with contractions by making them feel less intense and more manageable which, in turn, can reduce labour time and pain relief required.
What are the benefits of Pregnancy Massage?
As well as feeling relaxed, there are many benefits to having a pregnancy massage, such as:
- Muscular discomforts such as leg cramps, muscle stiffness, tension and knots – massage improves circulation and can therefore stimulate the flow of blood to these areas, easing discomfort.
- Muscular imbalance caused by postural changes – massage can help the lumbar region to regain balance and relieve discomfort.
- Sciatic pain during pregnancy can be caused by a tight buttock muscle – massage can help to relax this muscle and relieve the pain caused by the pinched nerve.
- Constipation – regular abdominal massage will encourage your bowels to move.
- Headaches and sinus pain – massage of the face, neck and shoulders can help to alleviate sinus pressure and headaches caused by tension.
- Swelling/oedema – extra pressure your uterus places on your legs can lead to swelling in your feet and ankles. Massage can improve circulation and lymph flow to the affected areas, helping to reduce swelling.
It’s important to note that a good therapist will always discuss areas you would like to be massaged and, more importantly, areas you wouldn’t. It’s really important before you book a pregnancy massage to ensure that the therapist has been specially trained in pre-natal care to guarantee appropriate knowledge, skills and safety.
I can’t afford a pregnancy massage, what can I do to help discomfort in pregnancy?
Sometimes a local therapist may work from home or be mobile and is able to offer competitive rates. Pregnancy massage within a spa setting will always command a far higher price.
There are many benefits to allowing a partner to massage you. A comfortable position to lay in for your partner to massage you is on your side (see the image at the top of this blog). You may find it beneficial to rest a pillow between your legs, behind your back, or rest your top leg on top of a pillow and your partner lay behind you so they can comfortably reach round to your tummy. Your partner then rests the palm of their hand at the centre of your abdomen across your tummy button whilst you both take several slow breaths and take time to adjust to this touch on your tummy.
You may find that your baby moves around with the warmth of your partner's resting hand. Once you both feel relaxed your partner can begin to slowly move their hand around in a circle using the tummy button as the central point. It’s important to work in a clockwise direction to work with the natural flow of the digestive system.
Gradually, your partner can begin to widen the circle so they begin to move around the entirety of your baby bump. It’s such a simple, understated move but can be highly relaxing for both yourself, your partner and ideal for bonding with your baby.
Touch is one of the first senses to develop in your growing baby so #letsbehonest; how wonderful to also be able to provide a sensory experience for your baby! Allowing your partner to massage your tummy provides a wonderful opportunity to develop the bond between you all, and is also great to help your partner to feel involved in the pregnancy. For some ladies the thought of intimacy with their partner might not be top of the agenda, but with this simple massage it’s a great way to maintain closeness.
Pregnancy Massage Oil
It’s important to choose an oil that is safe to use during pregnancy and one that is recommended by an aromatherapist. There is a lot of misguided information on aromatherapy and it can be confusing, so some may prefer to buy a pre-made oil/serum which will provide the same benefits as mixing your own essential oils but with the added assurance it has been safely blended.
My Expert Midwife’s Fantastic Skin Elastic is developed with the perfect balance of vitamins and essential oils to assist with all those pregnancy niggles like dry and itching skin, restless legs and uncomfortable stretching skin.
One My Expert Midwife customer started using Fantastic Skin Elastic after being unhappy with other, leading brands:
‘’Initially I started to use a body butter, but having naturally oily skin, I found it too heavy & started to get a spotty belly. I then switched to a leading brand coconut oil which was ok until my tummy really started to stretch out! The oil wasn’t heavy enough and to stop my tummy getting itchy I was applying 2/3 times a day. Then I discovered Fantastic Skin Elastic. What a difference and well worth the price tag!
I apply it every morning after my shower on my tummy and hips and it’s kept my skin looking and feeling great all day long. No itchiness or spots. My partner also really likes the feel/smell of it and even uses it in his baby bonding by occasionally rubbing it into my tummy while chatting to the baby. A bonus little massage for me! I can highly recommend this product & will most likely continue to use it after baby is here as I’ve always struggled to find a good moisturiser’’
Depending on the practitioner approach and qualifications, a pregnancy massage session can go beyond pure bodywork. It can become a form of complementary, holistic maternity care offering a space to talk and be heard without judgement, a place for support, advice and guidance (within the limits of the practitioner’s expertise). It may also include, where relevant and at the clients approval/request, energy work, visualisations, breathing, posture and exercise techniques, providing continuity of care to form an integral part of their pregnancy journey.