Prenatal massage has a host of benefits for moms-to-be! A pregnancy can be the most exciting and fulfilling time in one’s life, but it can also be stressful! Having the opportunity to relax and destress is so important during the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes of pregnancy.
During this period of changes and stresses, the body needs a way to decrease tension and stress. Using massage to relax will increase deep breathing; improving circulation, improving sleep, and decrease anxiety. Practicing this steady, deep breathing will also come in handy during labor!
The most common complaint I see as a massage therapist with my prenatal patients is discomfort in the low back, hips, and tailbone. Often this leads to tingling, shooting and pain down one or both legs – known as sciatica or piriformis syndrome. It’s no surprise this happens! Thinking about the physical changes in the body as a baby grows, it explains how the joints and muscles are affected when having to adjust to those changes. Increased load and shift in the hips cause the glutes and other hips muscles to stretch under this new load, causing pain, discomfort, and occasional constriction on the sciatic nerve.
Manually addressing tender spots and fascial restrictions in the hips and low back will help take the load off the joints, addressing the underlying causes, improving imbalances weaknesses. If my patient is comfortable I always like to work shoulders, low back, and legs down to the feet as those are usually tight spots that need some attention too!
Prenatal massage can be safely and comfortably preformed throughout the duration of pregnancy, though usually it is preferred to wait until getting through the tough first trimester. As usual, contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Prenatal massage is best preformed in a side-lying position on a massage table. Generally a body pillow, or several thick pillows are provided to use between the knees, to ease the hips, as well as a pillow under the head to support the shoulders and neck.
Softer techniques such as Swedish and Myofascial Releases increase blood flow and eliminate restrictions. Deeper, more specific work in tender spots will help release adhesions. Make sure your massage therapist checks in with pressure – you want to be comfortable with the pressure and areas worked!
In a pinch and don’t have time for a massage? Consider taking a few moments to practice that deep breathing and enjoy some simple, effective stretches such as Child’s Pose, Cat Cow and Butterfly. Have a tennis ball at home? Try rolling the sole of each foot, one at a time back and forth across the ball. Or, position the tennis ball against a wall at hip height, using your body weight, slowly lean your glute muscles into the ball until you feel a good pressure. Hold on the tender spot until the tension lightens up, then move to the next.
Both of our Massage Therapists, Jamie and La’Tina LOVE working with pregnant clients! They are both Washington State certified and received specific prenatal education in school, learning how to treat a variety of pregnancy related issues!