Prenatal In-Home Massage: Who, What, Where, Why, and How

pregnant woman receives a prenatal massage from Zeel

A prenatal massage, also called a pregnancy massage, is a wonderful way to relax during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, even if you’ve had a prenatal massage before, you probably haven’t experienced one in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

What is a prenatal massage?

A prenatal massage is a special massage performed only on pregnant women. It is designed to ease the aches and pains of pregnancy. Prenatal massage also avoids certain areas and techniques. For example, very deep work on the legs, ankles and feet is not appropriate during pregnancy massage due to the risk of blood clots. Pressure is typically light to medium, much like a Swedish massage. Deep tissue massage work can be performed on specific areas of the upper back and neck.

Who should perform a prenatal massage?

You should only work with a certified prenatal massage therapist during your pregnancy. Massage therapists with training and certification in prenatal massage are aware of the special needs that pregnant women have, based on trimester and physical condition.

How is a prenatal massage set up in your home?

If you go to get a prenatal massage at a spa or salon, you might experience a “pregnancy massage table” with cutouts for the breasts and belly. However, most massage therapists do not find such a table to be ideal for their pregnant clients. Allowing the belly to dangle can stretch out ligaments, causing discomfort. In addition, the table is “one size fits all,” which makes it difficult to accommodate women at every stage of pregnancy.

With an in-home prenatal massage, your massage therapist will use 2-3 pillows to position you during the massage. Maryana Vestic, a Zeel Massage Therapist certified in prenatal massage. “Prenatal massage is typically done in the side-lying position,” says Vestic. “The customer lies on her side with a pillow between her legs and a pillow under her head. If she chooses, a third pillow can be used for further support.”

The side-lying position is typically used to minimize stress on the stomach. While lying on the back during an entire prenatal massage, customers might be asked to lie on their backs for part of a massage. Says Vestic, “Additional pillows may be needed for the customer to have enough padding under their knees and back.” The amount of padding/number of pillows needed depends on the term and size of the pregnancy.

Why get a prenatal massage?

Pregnancy involves many physical changes, some of them quite uncomfortable. A pregnancy massage can soothe these aches and pains in a healthy, safe manner. “The benefits of prenatal massage include, but are not limited to, improving low back pain, neck and shoulder tension, anxiety, swelling/sore feet, circulation, and hip soreness,” says Vestic. “It can prepare the body and mind for the birthing process.”

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