June 25, 2017 June 25, 2017

The Benefits of Prenatal Massage

With the dramatic changes taking place in the woman's body during pregnancy, prenatal massage is often a much-welcomed therapy.  Massage embraces the body's transformation, helping to relax tense muscles, ease sore trouble spots, increase circulation and mobility, and provide energy.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, massage can also decrease symptoms of depression and reduce anxiety. 

Massage can do much to alleviate common discomforts from pregnancy - backache, shoulder and neck strain, edema of the hands and feet etc.  To insure that mom's specific needs are being addressed, pregnancy and health details will be gathered before the massage.  As most spa therapists are specially trained and intimately familiar with the changes mom's body is undergoing, they can confidently provide a customized service designed to bring relief and comfort.

The first trimester of pregnancy can be the most emotional and physically taxing time on the mother, as she acknowledges her pregnancy and the changes that her body is going through - including morning sickness, nose bleeds, extreme fatigue and more.  Proper massage technique can address and alleviate many of these symptoms, although some spas may hesitate to work with expecting moms as this is the trimester in which miscarriages are most common.

Moms are often pleasantly surprised by the changes they experience during the second trimester.  Morning sickness generally subsides and anxiety may be reduced as the odds of miscarriage are reduced.  However, there are significant changes in mom's body.  Her uterus rapidly increases in size, ligaments stretch and thicken, and abdominal muscles separate. The pain and strain caused by these changes can be significantly improved through prenatal massage. 

During the third trimester, spa services practically become a necessity.  Edema - water retention and swollen limbs - can cause discomfort.  The connective tissue in a woman's body softens and loosens up and the joints between the bones of her pelvis become more relaxed.  The greater flexibility of these bones makes it easier for the baby to pass through them during birth, however, it can cause hip pain.  An inexperienced therapist can inadvertently create additional pain by not working with these joints properly.

As prenatal massage grows in popularity, many spas are now offering pregnancy services.  However, before booking a massage, moms should remember to ask about a therapists training. 

Most therapists get some prenatal training during their initial training program but it's important to receive additional training.  There are many programs that offer specific certifications in prenatal, but we recommend at least a 2-day prenatal specific training in the last five years.

"We all know how wonderful a relaxing massage can be. Especially during pregnancy!  A mom-to-be may be feeling achy, have tight muscles or just need some pampering time," says Tori Kropp, author of the "The Joy of Pregnancy" and Belly Friendly advisor. "The key is to find an experienced practitioner, ideally one that has participated in enhanced prenatal massage education."

 It's also important to ask how often the therapist performs prenatal massage.  Even with prenatal training, some spas/therapists may only get a handful or less of prenatal clients.  If a therapist hasn't received special training in more than three years, and/or hasn't practiced prenatal massage regularly, they may need to refresh their prenatal training.  It's important that the therapist be comfortable and confident to provide a fulfilling experience.

As the spa industry continues to grow, prenatal massage is becoming more common.  If women only have one period in life that they visit the spa, pregnancy may be the most rewarding time.  If you are pregnant or know someone who is pregnant, give the gift of massage!

Stacy Denney Bio

Stacy Denney, author, columnist and founder of the country's first prenatal spa Barefoot & Pregnant, has been providing maternity spa services for nearly a decade.  With Belly Friendly, Denney encapsulates the rewarding Barefoot & Pregnant spa experience, and makes it available to moms across the country. 

Denney's commitment to developing excellent pregnancy services hasn't gone unnoticed.  Denney has been invited to pen books, contribute to leading web sites and consult on multiple boards.  Barefoot & Pregnant won awards, and was recognized by hundreds of media outlets across the country ranging from Fit Pregnancy and LA Times to the "Today Show".