Pregnancy - OMG - why didn’t anyone tell me about massage?
No one would argue that falling pregnant is an exciting and wonderful time of life but let’s be realistic - growing and carrying a whole new person inside your body is not easy.
For some, nine months of morning sickness, aches and pains, hormonal swings and discomfort topped off with a good dose of pain at the end can make pregnancy an ordeal.
The good news is that there are non-pharmaceutical options that can make life as a pregnant mum a little more pleasant.
April Thewlis, a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist and Oestopath says that many pregnant women successfully manage their musculoskeletal conditions with regular or semi regular massage to reduce their pain or keep their pain stable until their baby is born.
Massage positions during Pregnancy
‘Massage provides an effective relief from the emotional and physical demands of being pregnant,’ says April.
‘Interestingly, many women still believe that massage can only be provided when lying flat and they think they cannot have a massage during pregnancy. Even though the stomach is a major consideration, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
‘As the stomach grows larger, we adjust their positioning, using additional cushions or specially designed cushions placed on the table to support the growing stomach, and often tender breasts. This allows the mother to lie face down.
‘If this is uncomfortable or if the therapist deems this position not appropriate for the mother, she can also lie on her side with pillows to support her head, stomach and legs.’
Pain relief during Pregnancy
April said that she sees many pregnant women for a range of problems such as lower back and pelvic pain, cramps or swelling in the legs, wrist pain or carpal tunnel.
‘Often aches and pains that they may carry from before they were pregnant, such as shoulder and neck complaints become more acute, while other mums just want to take some time out and relax with a soothing massage.
An important consideration is the higher risk of blood clots forming in the leg during pregnancy, so a lighter form of massage is performed on the legs. This type of massage may also help to decrease the swelling in the legs, which is quite common in pregnancy.
April says that some women only experience pain during certain periods of hormonal change or rapid growth of the baby and have treatment to help them through these times.
‘Even if the relief is short term, this window of reduced pain gives mum the opportunity to have a rest, sometimes sleep better, go about their daily activities with greater ease, or just enjoy that mental break from discomfort.
‘Massage is one of the few times a pregnant mum can completely shut off from everything that is required of her and focus on herself.’
Managing risks during Massage
‘I find that some women also worry about risks of pregnancy massage – particularly miscarriage.
‘They should be reassured that the amount of pressure that would be exerted on the abdomen during massage is not enough to cause a miscarriage.
Some women also worry about acupressure points from Chinese medicine, which are thought to stimulate uterus contractions and induce labour. ‘We avoid these areas to be safe but light massage over these areas does not cause the same level of stimulation as acupressure massage.
April Thewlis is the owner and founder of Mumma Massage and a member of Massage & Myotherapy Australia.
To get the full story on prenatal massage, watch April’s video and find out more about how massage can help you through your pregnancy.