A prenatal care program that includes massage therapy can help reduce stress, both physical and mental, during pregnancy. A massage relieves discomforts typically experienced by a woman when she’s pregnant such as a stiff neck, backaches, swelling (also known as edema), and leg cramps.

Additionally, a massage is relieves pressure on the joints, encourages the circulation of the lymph and blood, relaxes tension to improve sleep, and alleviate anxiety or depression that may be caused by the hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Choosing Your Therapist and Massage Oils

Consult your obstetrician to find out if it’s okay to get a little rubdown. If you’re given the go signal by your doctor, choose a massage therapist who is trained in giving massages to pregnant women.

If you’re in your second trimester, remember that lying on your back puts pressure on blood vessels so your massage therapist should use pillows to enable you to face a wall instead of the ceiling.

The oil or lotion that will be used on you should be unscented. Some aromatherapy extracts used in making massage oils are capable of stimulating uterine contractions.

Ensure that your massage therapist is adept in reflexology and practices caution when massaging because pressure applied to some areas – like that between your heel and anklebone – may trigger said contractions.

That said, a good therapist can relieve stress by applying pressure to your hands, ears, and feet with safety. Don’t hesitate to tell your therapist if you feel too much pressure is being applied on these areas.

Talk to Your Therapist About Specifics

Discuss any regular symptoms that you would specifically like relief from with your therapist including:

Muscle Tension

Your baby’s extra weight can cause muscle tension. A massage can relieve this condition because it encourages blood flow to affected areas, provides oxygen that is richer in nutrients, and increases the lymphatic fluid’s flow so it can carry away metabolic waste and other toxins.

Headaches

Ask your massage therapist to focus on your shoulders, head, and neck to help reduce possible tension headaches or migraines. A good therapist will be able to relax muscle spasms and trigger points for these head conditions.

Other Symptoms

Backache, swelling or edema, fatigue, and leg cramps are all typical symptoms in pregnant women which can be alleviated by different massage techniques especially designed for a pregnant woman.

Countering Common Pains and Aches During Pregnancy

These common pains and aches experienced by pregnant women can be countered with the body’s natural protective agent against pain called serotonin. Serotonin is released through regular massage and sends a signal to your brain to improve your sleep patterns.

Other chemicals produced by your body such as dopamine and endorphins respond to massage therapy and combine their respective capabilities to increase deep sleep, something that pregnant women need badly and will continue to need after delivery of her baby.

Your position during the massage should be sideline supported by soft cushions to alleviate the pressure on your pelvic and lower back areas. When you’re in this comfortable position and your muscles uncoil, you up your chances to sleep deeply.

Know if Your Pregnancy is Low or High Risk

Depending on what stage your pregnancy is in (first, second or third trimester), your massage therapist should be able to utilize her knowledge of various techniques like a Swedish massage or reflexology to address your specific needs and requests. Low risk, normal pregnancies can benefit tremendously from a massage done by a professionally-trained massage therapist.

Women who have high risk pregnancies, especially those who are most likely to require a Caesarian section or may be prone to high blood pressure, should follow their doctors’ instructions on limitations or certain restrictions on what kind of massage to have. If your pregnancy is not high risk and you should feel any kind of pain while having the massage, stop your therapist immediately and see your doctor.

Benefits for Mother and Baby

Regular massage therapy has its rewards for pregnant women but remember the rule of thumb is always your – and your baby’s – safety first. If you’re getting your massage at a spa, ensure that they have necessary features such as wedges, extra padding, pillows, and cushions available for your comfort.

Needless to say, your chosen massage therapist should be licensed or certified to perform massages, is hygienic, trained, and has considerable experience with massage for pregnant women. Remember that a good massage not only benefits you but your baby as well.