medication during pregnancy

Benefits of Prenatal Massage Therapy

Benefits of prenatal massage therapy

Massage therapy can have incredible benefits for pregnant clients. Pregnancy is a delicate time, during which a mother may not be able to take many medications. Prenatal massage therapy can be a drug-free way to provide clients with much-needed relief from muscular tension.  

As the fetus grows, the mother’s body undergoes significant physical changes. Edema is a common issue as the growing fetus puts strain on the blood and lymph vessels. Sleep becomes difficult and often uncomfortable, as the growing fetus presses up against the bladder and surrounding organs.   

Prenatal massage therapy can help improve sleep and relax tense muscles, providing both physical and mental relief for the mother.   

Conditions associated with pregnancy  

Pre-eclampsia: This is a condition that usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood pressure and elevated amounts of protein found in the urine. Other symptoms include headaches, swelling, and general malaise.   

This condition is a concern during pregnancy because it can damage the blood vessels and cause strokes. In extreme cases it can even cause death. If a client has symptoms of pre-eclampsia, they should be moved into the high-risk category of pregnancy. The mother’s symptoms will then be closely monitored for the duration of her pregnancy.   

As a massage therapist, working with a client that has this condition can be challenging. Communicating with both client and her healthcare provider is paramount during the pregnancy.   

Gestational diabetes: Diabetes is a condition involving the regulation of blood sugar levels. In gestational diabetes, the human placental lactogen hormone inhibits the mother’s body from transporting insulin out of the bloodstream. This results in higher levels of glucose in the blood.   

When working with a client who has gestational diabetes, be aware of the signs of high sugar and low sugar levels. Common symptoms include increased urination, excessive thirst, and fatigue.   

Pre-term labor: Although a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks, a pregnancy may be considered full term at the 37th week. Pre-term labor is when a woman’s body starts the labor process prior to the 37-week mark.   

Signs and symptoms to watch for would be contractions of the abdomen, vaginal leaking, and spotting. A massage therapist who believes their client is showing signs of pre-term labor should refer them out.   

Safe positioning of prenatal clients  

Side-lying: The side-lying position is a common and comfortable position for prenatal clients to lay in. This position allows the therapist to work safely without putting pressure on the major blood vessels of the abdomen.  

Placing a pillow under the client’s head, abdomen, and a bolster under the top leg will ensure proper support.   

Semi-reclining: When adequately supported, this position can be quite comfortable for a client. Place 3-4 pillows, depending on the client’s stage in pregnancy, under her back. Place one pillow under the client’s right hip. This will shift the weight of the baby off the major blood vessels.  

Lastly, place a bolster under the knees for support.   

A prenatal massage therapist can complete a full supine massage in this position. The client can breathe easier a normal unsupported supine position. A drawback to this position is that the baby assumes a posterior position. This puts pressure on the mother’s major blood vessels.  

Supported prone: If properly supported, prone positions can feel very comfortable for clients. Make sure that her belly is supported so that the ligaments of the abdomen and posterior pelvis are not strained. Make sure that the abdomen is not compressed, and pressure is not being put on the baby.