Pregnancy massage, also known as prenatal massage is very similar to regular massage and has pretty much the same goal which is to improve the overall well-being. It is generally considered safe and may help you relieve back pain, reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, relieve joint and muscle aches, and some other pregnancy discomforts although it is important to keep in mind that the effects of prenatal massage have not been studied extensively enough to confirm the above mentioned benefits. Nevertheless, most health experts agree that prenatal massage can help relieve some pregnancy-related discomforts but they also recommend to look for a certified massage therapist who has the necessary training in pregnancy massage. But the most important of all is to discuss the benefits and risks of massage during pregnancy with your doctor before you start searching for a good massage therapist in your area because prenatal massage sometimes is not a good idea.
Massage therapists often refuse to give massage during the first trimester because it remains unknown whether it could have an effect on a miscarriage the risk of which is very high during the first three months of pregnancy. No evidence exist about the connection between massage and miscarriage during early pregnancy, however, both massage therapists and doctors typically recommend to avoid massage during the first trimester. Massage should be also avoided by all women have a high-risk pregnancy such as increased risk of miscarriage, preterm labor or other pregnancy complications.
Massage will not effect your pregnancy nor hurt your baby during the second and third trimester but it is highly important that the massage is performed by a highly trained pregnancy massage therapist because there are several important differences between regular and prenatal massage. Your body goes through dramatic changes during pregnancy and the therapist must adjust the massage according to these changes as there are certain points that must be avoided in pregnant women. Just as important is proper positioning during a massage. Your therapist may use a specially designed pregnancy table or special pillows that will enable you to lie comfortably on your side during the massage.
You should not feel any pain or discomfort during the massage, so be sure to tell your therapist immediately if anything in the massage or your position does not feel good. Abdomen requires very light pressure or avoidance of massage. It is also advisable to avoid strong pressure on the legs because pregnant women are more likely to develop blood clots due to circulatory changes, while a strong pressure can dislodge the blood clot.
Finding a therapist specialized in prenatal massage is not advisable only to avoid the risks associated with massage during pregnancy. A trained therapists also knows exactly where are the sore points in pregnant women and for that reason he or she is more likely to provide you relief from common pregnancy discomforts than a practitioner who is unexperienced in massaging pregnant women. Ask your doctor, midwife or hospital for recommendations, or contact the American Massage Therapy Association for qualified prenatal massage therapists in your area. However, be sure to check for qualifications before you make an appointment.