massage and pregnancy

Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy Massage Therapy

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

  1. Relieves muscle spasms, cramps associated with the stress of extra weight bearing and physical changes that occur during pregnancy.
  2. Reduces stress and teaches the mother to  relax. 
  3. Gestation processed enhanced through increasing blood circulation, lymph circulation, reducing edema, increasing cellular respiration.
  4. Provides emotional support and physical nurturing; this may be passed on to the baby
  5. Assists in reducing the stress in the weight bearing joints and musculoskeletal structures.
  6. Helps maximize breathing capacity which is needed during labor and delivery.

Stages of Pregnancy:

First: 14 weeks from the 1st day of last period

Baby:  from egg to 3 ” long, fully developed body, arms, legs, nails, ears

Mother:  uterus grows; heartbeat heard at day 26; increase in nausea and vomiting possible; at 10 weeks relaxin begins affecting joints – minimal structural changes occur but watch for sacroiliac changes and symphysis pubis changes.; fatigue; increased blood volume and increased heart rate; metabolic changes; increase in frequency of urination; constipation; anemia; headaches and dizziness possibly due to hormonal changes. Breast tenderness may increase.

Massage:  Risk of miscarriage the highest; no abdominal massage; do massage to assist circulation; no passive ROM if nauseated. Be prepared for mother being nauseous and vomiting from morning sickness.

Treatment plan: Focus is on relaxation. focus on postural alignment; pelvic, diaphragm, rib cage, low back.
Teach relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises, kegel exercises, pelvic clock exercises.

pregnancy massage

Second: 14-28 weeks
Baby: grows to 11″ and 1 1/2 lbs. fingerprints, eyebrows and eyelashes form; 16 weeks sensitive to light; 24 weeks hearing develops; 29 weeks opens eyes and looks to light source.

Mother:  Structural changes: Relaxin hormone continues to create changes in ligaments and joints allowing the pelvis to spread to prepare for delivery. Stress on low back upper back, pectorals; rib cage flares out at base and elevates; diaphragm elevates at rib attachments; breathing is mostly costal; abdominal breathing difficult; linea alba separates;  center of gravity changes to adapt to extra weight held in front.
Varicose veins and muscle cramping occur.  Skin stretches. Breasts swollen and tender. Possible development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Massage: Decreased risk of miscarriage; deep tissue ok on areas of chronic stress; joints less stable due to relaxin especially SI joint, symphysis pubis and hips.

Treatment plan: Focus on increasing breathing capacity, releasing abdominal attachments at lower rib cage; releasing intercostals. Watch for sciatica, low back and upper back  problems related with changes in center of gravity.  Continue to teach relaxation and connection to breathing.  Open up pelvic floor by working on adductors, hamstrings and rotators later in this stage. Sidelying position best.

Third: 28-40 weeks

Baby: 14-16 ” and 2 1/2 -3 lbs: at start; grows to 5-9 lbs. and 20″ in length; 29 weeks lungs developed; 32 weeks brain development, eyes track movement, sleep patterns develop.

Mother:  Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing as uterus grows to rib cage; diaphragm rises 1 1/2 ” upward; Difficult to move and walk; hemorrhoids, varicose veins, heartburn, hiatal hernias, frequent urination, constipation, trouble sleeping, edema in ankles and legs, carpal tunnel, stress to heart

Massage:  same as in 2nd trimester

Treatment plan:  Decrease stress to postural muscles – adductors, legs, hips, low back.  Decrease edema. Increase relaxation.

Myths of pregnancy and massage:

Massage therapy can be applied safely in all stages of pregnancy. Previous instruction said massage was not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy. Massage therapy in no way increases the risk of miscarriage. There are NO pressure points on the legs, ankles or shoulders that induce miscarriage or labor!

Pregnancy Massage Classes/Training

There are no Certifications in Pregnancy Massage. You can take classes and get a certificate of completion of the class. Know the difference between Certifications and Certificates.

If you want to specialize in Pregnancy massage, then by all means take the trainings that you need in order to massage pregnant women safely.

If you are just seeing one pregnant woman because of the place you work at is requesting that you do that, be informed about the process of pregnancy and use critical thinking skills to apply whatever type of massage you know.

See also:

Pregnancy Massage – Benefits of Massage and Stages of Pregnancy

Pregnancy Massage Contraindications and Warnings

Pregnancy Massage – Physiological Changes – Chart

Pregnancy Massage Resources – Free Online Articles,  Books/DVD’s,  Classes