Waiting to meet your new baby can get uncomfortable. Between body changes and the stress of preparing your life for a newborn, you’re due for some pampering! Massage can be a great way to relax, treat yourself, and even get ready for an easier labor and recovery.
Is Pregnancy Massage Safe?
First, a few disclaimers. While many pregnant people can benefit from a soothing massage, this treatment isn’t for everyone. Before booking an appointment, ask yourself:
- Am I out of first trimester? The American Pregnancy Association says massage is okay throughout pregnancy. Some massage therapists or medical providers may disagree. Your first trimester is a particularly sensitive period of prenatal development, with higher risk of miscarriage than in other trimesters. Talk to your doctor about when is a good time for you to begin scheduling massages.
- Do I have complications? Massage can reduce or relieve some pregnancy ailments, like back pain or mild edema. People with preeclampsia or risk of preterm labor may be better off avoiding massage.
- Is my massage therapist trained in prenatal massage? Your massage therapist should be prepared with special considerations for your positioning, and how to use the right techniques for you.
Types of Pregnancy Massage You’ll Love
Once you’re ready for a rubdown, you’ll find that you’ve got quite a few options. These are some of the best for pregnancy:
- Swedish massage: This blend of smooth strokes and muscle squeezing is what many of us envision when we picture a spa massage. Expect to strip down (although you can leave on any clothing you need to feel comfortable), and let your massage therapist know if the pressure is okay. Depending on your session, you may get the massage on your back, butt, and legs, which can help blood circulation and achiness.
- Acupressure: Some wellness traditions believe that certain points on the body can be manipulated to promote good health. While acupuncture uses needles, a therapist offering acupressure may use fingers or heated stones to press on certain sensitive points. Acupressure can help you sleep better, and the theory is that the massage will rebalance beneficial energy in your body. This massage is more likely to allow you to remain fully clothed than Swedish massage.
- Chiropractor massage: A chiropractor uses various techniques to align your musculoskeletal structure. TV depictions often highlight spinal manipulation, cracking the back or neck. You may not realize massage is often part of the treatment! Chiropractor sessions are often recommended to help turn a breech baby, or promote optimal baby position and pelvic alignment. Expect a firmer, less relaxing approach than Swedish massage or acupressure. One extra bonus of chiropractor massage is your insurance company may be more likely to cover sessions.
- At-home massage: In this version, your partner is your massage therapist! Realistically, not all people have the time or disposable cash to schedule the biweekly massages that the American Pregnancy Association says show the most benefits. Ask your partner for a foot and calf rub when you’re relaxing together in the evening. You can also look up videos or ask your doctor, midwife, or doula about massage techniques to try at home. Communicate what feels good and what doesn’t, and you may have a chance to bond and even have some new tricks in your pocket for pain relief during labor.
Once your baby’s born, your world will probably revolve around feedings and diaper changes for quite some time. You may feel physically and emotionally better by taking time to care for your changing body. Massage has shown multiple prenatal health benefits, so it’s certainly worth considering as part of your pregnancy plan.