If you are pregnant and experiencing discomfort or simply seeking a moment of relaxation, prenatal massage may be just what you need. In this blog, we discuss what prenatal massage is, its safety, benefits, whether it can induce labor, and who should get a prenatal massage.
What is Prenatal Massage?
Prenatal Massage is a massage treatment for any persons who are pregnant. We use a lot of the same techniques that we would for people who aren’t pregnant, but with modifications to keep you and your baby safe! The most common ailments seen for prenatal massage are hip and back pain, but we can work with almost all complaints. Prenatal massage falls within the “Perinatal” family. Perinatal is all encompassing of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
Are Prenatal Massages Safe, and When Can You Get a Prenatal Massage?
Prenatal massage is absolutely safe! You may have heard you should avoid massage in the first trimester – let’s break this down. The reason prenatal massage has been deemed “unsafe” in the first trimester is usually brought on by the knowledge that there are ligaments connecting from the back side of the uterus, to muscles and structures through your low back and glutes. Some people make the connection that because of that anatomy, you shouldn’t be massaging those areas in the first trimester.
But, prenatal massage with a registered massage therapist (RMT) who has additional perinatal training should be safe at any point in your pregnancy. This additional training is important, as there are certain things to take into consideration that sets prenatal massage apart from “regular” massage. If you aren’t sure about the qualifications of the provider you’re seeing or want to err on the side of caution, wait until the second trimester for your first massage.
What are the Benefits of Prenatal Massage?
There are a wide range of benefits of prenatal massage. Firstly, it’s time in a relaxing environment that is JUST for you. That alone time can do wonders for your mental health! Prenatal massage can also be a great opportunity for you to learn what’s happening in your body and how a massage therapist can help support you. Prenatal massage can relieve aches and pains, decrease nerve pain (hello there, Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome!), increase relaxation, decrease stress and/or anxiety surrounding your pregnancy, and be an opportunity to answer questions about your pregnancy.
Can a Prenatal Massage Induce Labour?
There aren’t enough current or well-done studies to show whether prenatal massage can induce labour from a statistics standpoint. However, I have seen from personal experience that it CAN help! A big contributor is taking the stress out of your body so that your mind can feel at ease. Labour at its core is an animalistic event. When animals give birth in the wild, the body wouldn’t allow them to birth if they were being chased by a predator; they find a quiet, dark space to birth calmly. If you translate this to human births, you may not be literally running from a predator, but your nervous system sometimes thinks you are! We aim to create a calm and peaceful environment so you can relax and your body can get ready.
There are some abdominal techniques that can also be great to prep your body if you know you’re having an abdominal birth or if you’d like to prepare for that option. Techniques that open the hips are also a great option for prepping your body for birth. Make sure to let your RMT know if you don’t want them using techniques that could induce labour.
Who Should Get a Prenatal Massage?
Everyone who is doing the very hard work of growing a human inside their body! Find a practitioner you trust and let your body be taken care of. The amount of people I’ve treated in later stages of pregnancy who’ve said “I wish I started seeing you sooner!” is astounding. Book that appointment and get your you-time in!