Getting a massage during pregnancy decreases muscle tension, improve circulation & mobility, prevents muscle cramping, eases joint pain and more!
Prenatal massage is commonly used to decrease muscle tension, improve circulation & mobility, prevent muscle cramping, ease joint pain, and with all of these great benefits, hopefully improve the quality of your sleep! A registered massage therapist is trained to specifically tailor a treatment plan to meet the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies, and will adjust their techniques accordingly.
Common Causes of Pain in Pregnant Women
Back pain during pregnancy is most commonly occurring, where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint. Aside from that, there are many common symptoms that can occur throughout your pregnancy such as carpal tunnel syndrome, difficulty breathing, muscle pain and cramping, cost-vertebral pain, headaches, and plantar fasciitis to name a few. Most of which will just disappear as you welcome your new born baby into this world! This doesn’t change the fact that you need to enjoy your pregnancy and have the energy and vitality to prepare for your baby’s arrival.
There are many possibilities for the cause of your pain. Here are some potential causes:
- Weight gain. During a healthy pregnancy, women will gain between 25 and 35 pounds. This is only a guideline, and can vary greatly. This extra weight will be distributed and loaded on the lumbar spine and pelvis, which can often be the cause of your lower back pain. The weight of your growing baby and uterus can also put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and low back which can also contribute to your pain.
- Postural changes. Pregnancy and weight gain will shift your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually — even without noticing — begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. Evident in the wide foot stance, and lateral hip rotation that you will notice in many pregnant woman. This can result in back pain, muscle fatigue, and potential strains.
- Hormone changes. During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. Relaxin can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
- Muscle separation. During fetal growth and development, the uterus expands. In some cases, this rapid growth can cause diastasis recti. This is when your rectus abdominis muscles, which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam. This separation can also be a cause of your back pain.
- Stress. Pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster! Emotional stress can cause muscle tension throughout your body, which may be felt as back pain or spasms, headaches, and shoulder tension. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
What to Expect During your Massage Therapy Appointment
First and foremost, your comfort is of the utmost importance, and positioning will be determined to suit your specific needs. Side-lying is a common position with pillow support, and massage therapy can offer a great deal of relief from this position. Seated in a chair, and resting with pillows is another option, should you prefer to be upright during your session. It is not uncommon for women to lay on their abdomen without discomfort in the first trimester, but beyond this point is likely not an option for your comfort and safety.
Should you need to use the washroom, and most women do at some point, we will have a robe and slippers available for you to wear. Your massage can be done with or without clothing, and pressure will be determined by your presenting symptoms and history. Treatments can range from 20 to 90 minutes, and generally no aromatherapy oils are used for safety precautions, as there are some essential oils that are contra-indicated during your pregnancy.
Benefits of Massage Therapy During Pregnancy
- Relaxation & Stress Reduction.
- Relief from muscle cramps, spasms, headaches, generalized pain, especially in the lower back, shoulders, neck, hips, and legs.
- Reduced swelling.
- Decrease strain on weight-bearing joints, Sacro-iliac joint, hips, knees, and feet.
- Potentially improve labor pain.
- Reduced neck pain & carpal tunnel symptoms
- Decreased lower leg and foot pain due to weight distribution and fallen arch pain
- Relief from tingling/numbness due to sleep position and brachial plexus impingement
Precautions or Limitations for Massage Therapy During Pregnancy
Restrictions and considerations for pregnant clients may include:
- Positioning for a Massage Session – the side lying position is often advised for pregnant women, as this prevents compression on the vena cava that can occur when lying on your back during pregnancy.
- Abdominal Massage – abdominal massage should be completely avoided during that first trimester. In addition, deep work in the low back should also be avoided during the early stages of pregnancy.
- Pre-existing Medical Conditions – any medical condition may require a treatment modification. Please be sure to disclose ALL exisitng medical concerns with your therapist.
Despite a therapist’s best efforts, there are several situations where even a cautious approach and a signed release form are insufficient. In addition to massage therapy being contraindicated, immediate medical attention is necessary for:
- Possible Miscarriage
- Unexplained swelling, and pain in lower legs (Potential Blood Clot)
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Severe Abdominal Pain
- Eclampsia (Toxemia) – This is an emergency situation! Can occur in 1 out of 200 patients with pre-eclampsia.
By effectively communicating your complete health history and presenting symptoms, we can be sure to provide a treatment that is safe and effective for your particular needs. Knowing the difference between massage cautions and contraindications, are of the utmost importance.
Postpartum Massage Therapy can be valuable to help you in your journey as you work toward getting your body back to its pre-pregnant condition. Together, we can speed your recovery process by bringing relief to sore muscles, decreasing stress, and helping to improve your quality of sleep! We all know how precious sleep can be for both new moms and their newborns. Abdominal massage can be beneficial for subcutaneous scar tissue, especially in the event of a C-section.
No matter where you are in your pregnancy journey, massage therapy may have many benefits for you and your baby. At the Optimum Wellness Centre we look forward to helping in any way that we can.