Let’s just say that expectant moms are accustomed to receiving advice on what does or doesn’t lead to a healthy pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, you’re probably already familiar with just how eager people are to provide you with wellness advice. That might make you reluctant to even bring up topics related to holistic health around other people out of fear that everyone will chime in with a personal opinion! However, you still have questions about the safety of massage therapy for pregnant women. Take a look at what you should know about massage therapy during pregnancy.

Prenatal Massage: Is It a Good Idea for Expectant Mothers?

Prenatal massage is one of those rare “pregnancy perks” that can be great for your health while also making you feel amazingly pampered. While a massage may feel like a guilty pleasure, there’s nothing but healthy benefits as far as the eye can see for most expectants mothers. However, it is important to get a few things out of the way before discussing the safety of prenatal massage.

First, it’s important to let your doctor know that you’re thinking about prenatal massage before you book an appointment. This isn’t necessarily exclusive to prenatal massage because you should generally let your doctor know about any new activities you’ll be beginning during pregnancy. It’s possible that you may not be an ideal candidate if you are going through a high-risk pregnancy.

The official word from the American Pregnancy Association is that women can begin prenatal massage at any point during their pregnancies. Additionally, this is considered to be the general consensus throughout the medical community. Again, having a chat with your doctor to let them know that you are considering introducing prenatal massage into your wellness plan is the first step. If you book a massage appointment, it’s important to let your massage therapist know that you are pregnant prior to the start of the massage. Of course, booking an appointment with a massage therapist specializing in prenatal massage is the best option for having a relaxing, nourishing experience that addresses your specific needs during your current stage of pregnancy.

What Is Prenatal Massage?

A prenatal massage employs techniques that have been specially adapted to account for the physical changes that take place during pregnancy. It is done by massage therapists with specialized training in caring for pregnant women. While you may be familiar with lying down on your stomach during a traditional massage, you will actually use special positioning and cushioning during your prenatal massage appointment that safely and comfortably accommodate for your growing belly.

What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage comes with a wide variety of physical and emotional benefits for expectant mothers. If you loved massage prior to becoming pregnant, prenatal massage can offer a way for you to continue your preferred “stress defense” technique in a form that is safe and healthy for you during your pregnancy. Take a look at some of the benefits of prenatal massage:

  • Better sleep.
  • Mental relaxation.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Reduced joint pain.
  • Better circulation.
  • Reduced swelling or edema.
  • Reduced muscle tension.
  • Reduced headaches.
  • Support for muscles and soft tissue.

There’s even strong evidence to support the idea that prenatal massage can help with hormone regulation during pregnancy. For instance, hormones associated with stress and relaxation can be altered to create a better balance through manual massage therapy. The obvious benefit to this is that pregnant women enjoy mood support during a time when hormonal balance can feel “out of whack.” This is so important for women in light of the fact that we know that pregnancy does create a risk for prenatal depression. In fact, one study showed that more than 37 percent of women may be at risk for prenatal depression. While massage is not a cure for prenatal depression that should be used to replace seeking psychological support, it can help pregnant women to enjoy a method of natural mood support that may help to insulate them from depression. Another benefit is that mood regulation helps to protect cardiovascular health in women. In addition to helping you enjoy a healthier, happier pregnancy full of energy, improved cardiovascular health can set you up for a lifetime of health!

Prenatal Massage for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic nerve pain is one of the biggest reasons behind why women seek prenatal massage. While some women experience sciatic pain prior to pregnancy, the bodily changes that take place during pregnancy can very easily create sciatic pain for the first time. If you’ve dealt with sciatic pain in the past, pregnancy may be exacerbating the issue.

Sciatic pain tends to get worse later in pregnancy because the pressure on the uterus increases. As the uterus rests on your lower-back and pelvic-floor muscles, it actually applies pressure to the muscles throughout your legs. Many women experience severe pressure and swelling all throughout their lower back, buttocks and legs. Here’s a look at some telltale signs that you have pregnancy sciatic pain that may benefit from prenatal massage:

  • Poor bladder control.
  • A pins-and-needles sensation in your legs.
  • Tingling in your legs.
  • Numbness in your legs.
  • Burning sensations in your lower extremities.
  • A sensation of weakness throughout your lower back or legs.

While some pregnant women experience sciatic nerve pain around the clock, this pain may also be triggered by movement. For instance, women who stand for many hours per day might find that the pain is worse at the end of the day. Others may find sitting on a chair for long hours unbearable. Even coughing or sneezing can cause sciatic pain to flare up!

Booking Your First Prenatal Massage Appointment

If you’re looking for a natural way to enjoy a pain-free pregnancy that allows you to experience energy and vitality, prenatal massage can be a great option! You don’t have to be in pain to enjoy the benefits of prenatal massage. Many women begin massage therapy when they feel great as a way to ensure that they stay feeling that way. In fact, many of the aches and pains that are associated with pregnancy may not show up until the second and third trimesters. Massage therapy helps to keep your muscles nourished and flexible as your body undergoes changes that alter the way that your joints and muscles move. Here are some tips for making the most of your first prenatal massage visit:

  • Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs! Prenatal massage therapists are there to accommodate your needs to ensure that you feel comfortable.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort at any point, let your massage therapist know. It is very easy to change positions or use special techniques to get you back into a more comfortable position.
  • Ask questions! Your massage experience doesn’t need to be a surprise. While your massage therapist will provide you with an overview of what to expect, you are free to ask for some specific step-by-step details about the techniques being used.
  • Discuss any pain or discomfort you’re dealing with ahead of time. If you’re suffering from sciatic pain, it’s important to let your massage therapist know. This will allow them to give extra attention to the parts of your body that are experiencing pain.
  • Preschedule your appointments. You’re going to have a lot on your mind during these nine months! Scheduling your prenatal massage appointments ahead of time will ensure that you’re not scrambling to book an appointment at the last minute when you are desperate for some relaxation!

Once you have clearance from your doctor to book your first prenatal massage, you can look forward to a relaxing, soothing experience that is going to nourish your body and soul. Don’t miss this opportunity to book some special time for yourself before the big day! Reach out to the DE Integrative team today to allow us to accommodate all your massage needs!