This month I will be learning how to teach Nurturing the Mother® Pregnancy and Postpartum Class. In honor of that I would like to focus this month on prenatal massage. I have been a massage therapist for 10 years and 9 of those years I have been practicing prenatal massage. I learned from Claire Marie Miller and will be teaching for her starting at the end of June 2022.
Massage in Early Pregnancy
What I have learned over my years of being a prenatal massage therapist, as well as being pregnant twice, is that you must listen to your body. All pregnancies are different, not only from person to person, but from child to child. When it comes to massage, during pregnancy you can receive massage from the day you conceive to the day that you deliver. In any pregnancy there is nothing that a trained massage therapist can do to cause a miscarriage. In most cases women don’t know they are pregnant until 6-8 weeks, and they may have received massage during that time, and that is perfectly fine.
Let’s talk about Myths vs Facts. There are many “old wives’ tales” that we still believe today.
First, when sleeping or laying down you can only lay on your left side. This is a MYTH. You SHOULD lay on your left side because there is a blood vessel that leads to the uterus that supports the baby. During my first pregnancy, I couldn’t breathe when I was laying on my left side and spent most of that pregnancy on my right side. While I did consult with my doctor to make sure I wasn’t going to hurt my child he told me, “As long as you are comfortable do what you need to do. The baby will make it known if something isn’t right.”
Second, you cannot rub certain points on the body, or you might induce labor. This is a MYTH. My clients ask me about this all the time and my response is “If I could induce labor, I would be a millionaire.” There are 4 spots on the body that people think will “induce labor” They are between the thumb and forefinger, top of the shoulders, dimples on the lower back, and outside of ankles. While in active labor these spots will help make contractions become longer and stronger, they do NOT start the contractions. Even in active labor to help the contractions become longer and stronger, you must use so much pressure that you may leave a bruise. After you give birth the spot on the top of the shoulders will help bring in breast milk.
When Not to get Massage
Now that we have just debunked two myths there is one major reason that you should not come in for massage while you are pregnant, or at any other time for that matter, is if you have pitted edema. Pitted edema is when your legs, or body, is so swollen that if you push down with your finger, it will leave an indent in the swelling. This is cause for concern and I would highly suggest that you go and see your doctor. In pregnancy this could be a sign of preeclampsia. Your doctor will have the best advice for you during your pregnancy. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable during your pregnancy, speak with your doctor. This will not only give you peace of mind, but it will allow your issues to be documented by your health care provider.
At the end of the day, during a normal and healthy pregnancy massage is great. It will allow you to stay relaxed and help you while your body is transitions both during pregnancy and after. During your pregnancy I would suggest getting massage monthly and, if you can, biweekly starting at 30 weeks until you deliver. Once you are not able to lay on your stomach anymore, I have a special pillow set up to help you lay on your side comfortably. If at any point in the massage, you are uncomfortable we will change the set up, so you are. After you have had the baby, I will be there for your recovery, to help your milk come in, or as a person that you can call and ask question. While I am not a doctor, and cannot give your any medical advice, I am a mom. I am happy to be there to support you and to be a person to talk to when you need it.
If you are a massage therpist and would like to learn how to perform Prenatal and Postartum massage please take a look at the classes I am offering in Maryland and Pennsylvania. If you are a school who is looking to offer this class please contact me.