Our Knox Remedial Massage Therapist, Leanne, explains what our mummas need to know about Pregnancy Massage.
Pregnancy Massage- what to look out for
Many mothers-to-be think that to get a good massage, they need to be lying face-down and expect to be lying in a pregnancy pillow or a table with a pregnancy hole. In reality, these systems are usually designed for use by physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths, where the pregnant client is lying face down for a maximum of 10-15min, not for hour long massages.
Specially designed pregnancy pillow systems can be used up until 25 weeks but therapists must use caution and it should not be used for longer than 20 minutes. Therapists must ensure that there is sufficient support of the pelvis and that there is no increase in lumbar lordosis. Extra towels and padding must be used to pad up the belly cutout depending on the depth required for the client.
Why does position matter?
Lying face down while pregnant can actually aggravate the discomforts of pregnancy. According to Carole Osborne, author of Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, putting pressure on the lower back while lying face down can increase intrauterine pressure, shorten the muscles in the lower back and increase strain on the ligaments, which maintain the correct position of the uterus and support the pelvis.
As your pregnancy progresses the breasts will enlarge and some women may notice an increase in sinus pressure. Lying face down will put additional pressure on the chest and sinuses.
For all of these reasons, I prefer to do all of my pregnancy massages in the side lying position.
What are the benefits of a side-lying position?
Catherine McInerney, Director of Pregnancy Massage Australia, recommends the side-lying position as the safest option for massage during pregnancy.
The side lying position offers a number of positive physical and psychological benefits for both mum and baby. This position puts the muscles in the lower back into a relaxed position, gently lengthens the spine, reducing the effects of lower back pain whilst supporting the abdomen. It also reduces strain on uterine ligaments and prevents increase in sinus pressure.
A sidelying, fetal position is a very soothing, comfortable position, one in which most people sleep, so it is very calming physically and psychologically.
When side-lying the therapist has easy and safe access to all areas of the body in order to treat those aches and pains commonly experienced during pregnancy.
So what does a side-lying massage look like?
To ensure the safety and comfort of both mother and baby you will start lying on your left hand side with your head on a firm pillow. This will keep your head and neck in alignment.
You will be given a small wedge shaped pillow to put under your abdomen to support the growing uterus and prevent twisting and straining of the uterine ligament and lumbar spine.
Next, a pillow will be placed between your legs and your legs will be put at a 90 degree angle. This allows the pelvis to stay in alignment, reduces pressure on the lumbar spine and provides the legs with even blood flow.
Finally a small pillow or rolled towel will be placed under your upper arm to support the breast area and prevent rotation of your shoulders.
You will be treated to a whole body massage with a focus on your particular areas of discomfort.
Leanne, our Remedial Massage Therapist and mother of two, has undertaken further training with Pregnancy Massage Australia and obtained her Certificate in Pregnancy Massage to ensure our mums and their little ones are in safe hands. Call or book online today.