Prenatal massage shares many of the goals of regular massage — to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and just make you feel good. But it's also tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies, and therapists who are trained in prenatal massage adjust their techniques accordingly. A pregnancy massage typically lasts an hour.
Pregnancy massage has been found to reduce stress, decrease swelling in the arms and legs, and relieve aches and pains in muscles and joints.
It's a popular complementary therapy during pregnancy for back pain, when choices for pain relief, such as medication, are often limited.
Not only can massage be physically beneficial, but the human touch can be comforting and provide emotional support during pregnancy.
Massage therapy has been found to reduce anxiety and depression.
Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.
Look for a massage therapist who is certified in pregnancy massage.
That means that the therapist has had specialized training in pregnancy massage, and knows what is safe for the mother and baby.
Many massage therapists do not recommend massage in the first trimester.
Also, women with certain health conditions may not be able to have pregnancy massage.
It's best to consult your doctor and a certified pregnancy massage therapist.