Pregnancy is one of the most amazing times in your life, and you want to feel at your best so you can enjoy every moment. I recently reached out to remedial massage therapist and women's health coach Melissa Woodward from Evolution Health Services to tell us about some of the many benefits, and also dispel some of the myths around massage during pregnancy.
Are you experiencing pain in pregnancy or as a new mum? Let's take a look at 5 fun facts about pregnancy and post natal massage so you can get the help you need to feel amazing and make this period more enjoyable without fear.
1. Pregnancy Massage is safe through all stages.
The biggest fear often raised by women I speak with during pregnancy, is that it is not safe to have a massage in the first trimester of pregnancy. In the past this was the training provided to Massage Therapists. It was to be avoided so not to cause a miscarriage. There is no medical evidence to suggest that massage could cause a miscarriage. What frustrates me about this is often massage therapists will tell you it is not safe, like you are doing something wrong if you need a massage in the first trimester. In actual fact, it's the Massage Therapist's issue in that they do not want to be linked to miscarriage and face legal action. Often they are not trained, experienced or confident in working with pregnant women. It is important to find a Massage Therapist who is qualified and experienced in pregnancy massage so they can provide the safest treatment for you. They will know the correct positioning for each stage, how to accommodate your pregnancy symptoms and areas needing treatment to ease pregnancy pain.
2. Pregnancy Massage will not cause you to go into labour
Recently, I had an inquiry from a woman who was turned away by a clinic who said she was not allowed to have a pregnancy massage at 34 weeks pregnant. I was surprised because if there was one period that women need treatment most, it's that last 6 weeks. This is when my pregnant clients come to see me weekly if they are really struggling. The reason she was given was that the Massage Therapist felt that massage might put her into labour so she wasn't allowed to have one. I reassured her that it is most definitely safe to have a massage and the best time to prepare her body for labour. I shared that I wished that massage could cause women to go into labour at the right time. This would prevent the need for medical induction, wouldn't it? This lovely woman booked in and I helped ease her aches without any labour. What massage can do, is relax the body in preparation for the marathon effort that labour presents.
There is often concern about pressure points that will bring on labour. Those points may exist but to truly stimulate them, you need to provide targeted, deep, sustained pressure on those points. I don't avoid these areas in the general massage but I would avoid sustained pressure, just in case it did stimulate labour.
3. Belly Massage is awesome in Pregnancy and Post Natal Massage
As a pregnant woman can become quite protective of her belly during pregnancy, I always ask for permission to perform a belly massage. The reason I love it so much is that massage can help ease aches due to round ligament pain, take pressure off stretched abdominal muscles and create more space for breathing. Many women find it very relaxing and we often have baby moving around to greet us.
During the post natal period, belly massage can become a fantastic tool for recovery. If you deliver via c-section, I can provide a scar tissue massage treatment to aid in improving tissue mobility, blood flow and any other issues linked to the developing scar tissue. I do need to wait until 8 weeks post birth to start this treatment but you can begin working at home. Start with touching the area with different textures. Start washing the area with a soft cloth, face washer and shower puff as sensitivity allows.
Another issue that can occur during pregnancy and post natal recovery is constipation. Along with increasing your fibre and water intake, abdominal massage may help to stimulate digestion and improve bowel movements.
4. Pregnancy and Post Natal Massage can involve firm pressure.
Another issue pregnant women face before coming to see me is that other therapists say it is unsafe to apply pressure. A firm massage is completely safe in pregnancy and during post natal recovery. I will always work with you to determine your pain tolerance and comfort. I make sure that you can still comfortably breathe through any discomfort from the massage, as I do not want you holding your breath. Positioning also plays a key role in how and where pressure is applied. If you are face down in a belly pillow, I avoid adding any further downward pressure. If you are side lying, I know I can comfortably get into the hips without any impact on the pregnant belly.
In post natal massage, firm pressure will also be considered based on how you delivered, how far post partum you are and the appropriate positioning. If you are breastfeeding, I will check if you are feeling full and offer a pillow to help with lying face down. If you have had a c-section and are lying face down, I will take care with downward pressure too. Firm pressure is needed to get into those aching muscles, especially around the neck and shoulders, carrying the weight of your baby in your arms.
5. You do not need to wait until your 6 week check for Post Natal Massage
I get asked when mums can enjoy their first massage after baby and there is no set rule. It depends on when you feel ready to leave the house and ready to be touched. If that's right away, then come on in. If you are uncomfortable laying face down, we can adopt similar positions and support given during pregnancy with all the pillows. Massage in the first 6 weeks after baby may help to address any leftover pain from the load of pregnancy, as well as ease any swelling post birth or surgery.
Pregnancy and Post Natal Massage are designed to support your body through the most significant changes in your life. I aim to find ways that I can assist and support you, rather than give you all the things you cannot do. It is safe to care for your body and is shown to have a positive effect on your baby's growth and development.
If you are unsure, I encourage you to contact me to ask questions and ease any fears or uncertainty.
Find me here:
Book your pregnancy and post natal massage online: www.evolutionhealthservices.com.au
Melissa Woodward is Remedial Massage Therapist and Women's Health Coach. She is passionate about supporting women to enjoy their pregnancy and post natal recovery without fear. She provides her Pregnancy and Post Natal Massage services in her Campbelltown clinic. She welcomes mums to bring their babies in a kid-friendly space.
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