A massage is a great treat for a pregnant woman. After a massage, not only will your body feel better, and less fatigued, but your mental and emotional state may be better too. In addition, massage therapy helps with circulation and with muscle joint pain.
Massage in pregnancy can help relieve the common pregnancy symptom of sciatica or pain along the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. Sciatica can be caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched or irritated. Other pregnancy symptoms that can be helped by massage include leg cramps, and back and round ligament pain. Round ligament is abdominal pain caused by the growth of the uterus and the ligaments used to hold it in place. This pain is unrelated to cramping or contractions and should feel different than contractions.
- Find a massage therapist that is used to pregnant women. Once your belly gets large, you will not be able to lie on your stomach without help. Your massage therapist may want to massage you while you lay on your side. However, a new pillow now allows pregnant women to lie on their stomachs while getting massaged. This pillow has a deep cutout in the center. Many spas now offer these pillows.
- Make sure your massage therapist does not use acupressure or deep tissue massage. There is actually an acupressure point deep in your shoulders that can cause labor to begin. This is a great point to hit if you are past forty weeks and looking for an induction, but it's important that your massage therapist avoid this spot before forty weeks. Your massage therapist should also avoid the acupressure point above the ankle. This site can also cause labor to begin. For more information about safety during pregnancy massage, read Massage During Pregnancy by Bette Waters.
- Ask for an unscented massage lotion in the beginning. Many women are surprised by how quickly a scent can trigger nausea or morning sickness. Ask for an unscented massage lotion until you know you are past morning sickness. In addition, some women are overwhelmed by scents. If this is the case, you may need to use an unscented massage oil through your entire pregnancy.
- Remember that you don't have to go to a professional for a massage-your partner can give you a massage too. Many couples use massage time for bonding during pregnancy. If your partner isn't sure how to massage a pregnant woman the book Mother Massage: A Handbook for Relieving the Discomforts of Pregnancy by Elaine Stillerman will help.
- There's a great deal of debate about the safety of essential oils in pregnancy. If your massage therapist or you and your partner want to use an essential oil (aromatherapy) there are some things to remember. Never pour essential oils directly onto your skin due to the risk of an allergic reaction. Essential oils should always be mixed with a carrier oil (also called base oil) such as jojoba oil or sesame oil.
Some essential oils may be contraindicated in pregnancy because they can cause premature labor, or a miscarriage. Contraindicated essential oils include: Aniseed, Arnica, Basil, Clary Sage, Cypress, Fennel, Jasmine, Juniper and Marjoram. I included a few links to the right about essential oils and pregnancy.
- Do not get a massage if you have the following conditions: watery or bloody discharge, diabetes, unusual pain, a high risk pregnancy (without your care provider's permission), cramping, contractions (unless you are past 38 weeks and trying to relax so labor can begin) and/or high blood pressure. Always ask your care provider before getting your first pregnancy massage.