Pregnancy can be an enriching experience for women, but it goes without saying that there is immense physical strain involved. The changes the body undergoes over the course of a nine month term can cause intense physiological discomfort, not to mention the psychological pressure resulting from stress and sleep deprivation.
Various massage therapy techniques can help to alleviate some of the physical and mental pressures women experience. However, each pregnancy is different and RMTs need to carefully assess patients and tailor treatments as needed, taking extra precautions to ensure their health and wellbeing during their massage therapy sessions.
A pregnant woman’s body experiences numerous physical changes. These are all perfectly natural developments, helping to prepare the body for labour and aid fetal development. Some changes RMTs need to be mindful of include:
During prenatal massage therapy, RMTs with massage therapy certification will discuss their treatment with a patient and aim to focus on the symptoms causing them the most discomfort. Swedish massage is one of the most commonly used modalities, as it relieves muscle tension and encourages lymph and blood flow to afflicted areas.
To relieve headaches and migraines, RMTs may use trigger point therapy, focusing specifically on the head, neck and shoulders. In cases of extreme muscle tension or swelling, a therapist may employ techniques specifically focused on regularizing blood or lymph flow, such as lymphatic drainage. Other modalities such as deep tissue massage can also be used where appropriate.
The prenatal massage techniques RMTs learn in massage courses can do wonders for patients, making their pregnancy a much more enjoyable experience overall. Prenatal massage for relaxation helps to reduce anxiety and can lead to improved sleep patterns, while the techniques employed can also reduce muscular discomfort such as backaches, leg cramps, stiff necks, and swelling.
In addition, studies have also shown that massage during pregnancy can increase a patient’s serotonin and dopamine levels, while decreasing levels of cortisol, reducing the feelings of depression that some women experience due to hormonal changes.
Students at massage therapy school learn to take extra care when performing a prenatal massage. A pregnant patient needs to be positioned with special care to be comfortable. During the second trimester, an RMT will usually position a patient in the side-lying position to avoid putting pressure on the vena cava, using cushions to provide extra support to the lower back and pelvic areas. However, some patients prefer to lie on their back with one hip slightly elevated.
Each patient will have different needs, and it’s important for RMTs to encourage pregnant women to speak up if they feel any sort of discomfort. Also, while massage is completely safe for most pregnancies, RMTs should always advise a patient to consult their physician prior to commencing treatment.
Are you interested in learning more about prenatal massage? Visit OVCMT for more information about our programs.