During pregnancy, the heart increases blood flow by 30 to 50 percent. The lungs require a 30-40 percent increase in the air you inhale, putting more stress on the muscles in your chest and neck. The stomach must handle increased food intake, while the stomach (and the intestines and diaphragm) are pushed upwards due to the uterus growing. Blood flow in the kidneys increases by 35 percent and makes their filtering function increase by 40 percent, which increases urine production.

The growing uterus puts increased pressure on the bladder, which results in frequent urination and urine leakage. Your growing belly increases the curve of your lower back, causing pain and also putting more pressure on your joints and bones. Relaxin is a hormone your body produces during pregnancy, which makes your ligaments looser and can cause the joints to become less stable.

Sounds like a good time for a massage, huh?

So how can massage help?

• Increases circulation and helps reduce stress, which will help keep blood pressure in check.

• Eliminates toxins from the body, which will help reduce fatigue.

• Offers stress relief for weight bearing joints, like ankles, low back and pelvis.

• Provides relief of headaches, backaches, stiff necks, swelling, sore feet and even sciatica.

• Assists in proper posture to help prevent future postural imbalances.

• Increases oxygen and nutrients to the mother and baby, which delivers more nutrients to the baby, and increases the mother’s energy.

• Stabilizes hormone levels.

• Creates relaxation and better sleep, making for a healthier (and happier!) mom.

• Increases flexibility of muscles, which will result in an easier birth.

• Relaxes the pelvis, which helps improve the rotation of a breech presentation and makes for an easier childbirth.

• Speeds recovery postpartum, in either vaginal childbirth or cesarean section.

• Makes breast feeding easier and creates more milk production due to reduced tension.

Find Someone with Special Training

Just because someone is a massage therapist, it doesn’t mean they should do a pregnancy massage. Many therapists perform pregnancy massage without any specialized training or certificate for pregnancy massage. They believe you can do the same massage that you would on any non-pregnant client.

The needs and body of pregnant women are much different from those of non-pregnant clients. Pregnancy massage differs from a regular massage in many ways. One of the main ways it differs is by the fact that the client is carrying a baby. So of course, the knowledge of the changes that she is going through physically, mentally, hormonally and anatomically are very important. Some points must be avoided and pressures must be adjusted in certain areas to protect the well-being of the mother and the baby she is carrying.

Find a therapist with special training for Pregnancy or Pre-natal Massage.

Positioning during Pregnancy

Common positioning during pregnancy massage is either semi-reclining or side lying. Side lying is most common — you lay on either side (left side only if you happen to have a high risk pregnancy) with pillows supporting your neck, head, hips and legs. Semi-reclining is another option that is very comfortable yet less frequently used. You lay on a table in which the back is able to be adjusted so you can sit up slightly raised.

Another way some therapists accomplish this is by stacking pillows to support your upper body, much like you might do in your bed to watch TV or read.

The reason these two positions are used is that it is not good to lay flat on your back after 22 weeks. The baby is growing larger now, and the weight can cause too much pressure on the deep blood vessels in your abdomen, reducing circulation to you and your baby. Pregnant women laying on their backs typically will start to get dizzy and sick from lack of blood flow. This is why semi-reclining is useful after 22 weeks. The semi-reclining position shifts the weight of the baby down so that it is no longer pressing on the blood vessels. This makes the position not only more comfortable but safer, too.

Laying on the stomach is another position to avoid after you start to show, and the baby starts to grow. Imagine your baby is outside your body would you ever want to sit on it? So why would you want to press your whole body weight on it? It can be hard for many women to get comfortable in other positions, and many ideas have came about to try to enable women to lay on their stomachs but beware. I’m sure many of you know about the tables with the cut out in them for women to place their bellies in, which allow them to lay on their stomachs. The problem with these are the belly is hanging, unsupported, which will pull on the ligament that connects from your lower back to your uterus, causing even more pain in your low back. Imagine your baby’s weight hanging from just a piece of yarn from your low back, this will pull and magnify the already increased curve of your low back, resulting in even more problems. So how about those tables with a hole but also a net or a strap across them to stop the unsupported hanging? Then we go back to the original problem of the pressure being put on your belly and of course, the baby. So steer clear of laying on your stomach — in any form — during your pregnancy.

What is Considered a High Risk Pregnancy?

High risk pregnancy is when you are more likely to have complications. Typically, if you are considered high risk for your pregnancy, you need to let your massage therapist know. In some cases, you might need a note from your doctor or mid-wife saying massage is okay. Here’s a list of what might categorize your pregnancy as high risk (but please, as always, speak to a doctor about your specific pregnancy issues and if you might be in a high risk pregnancy):

• Previous neonatal death
• Previous premature infant
• Repeated miscarriages or abortions
• History of eclampsia or pre-eclampsia
• Abnormal PAP test
• Chronic hypertension
• Heart disease
• Insulin dependent diabetes
• Moderate to severe renal disease
• Maternal age under 15 and over 35
• Alcohol, smoking or drug use

These are just a few. For a full list of factors, and how they rate, click here.

Bringing a baby into the world can be a wonderful, miraculous and joyful experience, yet can be challenging too. So make massage part of your regular routine!

Pregnancy Massage

Call: 815 • 434 • 0130            Email: Melissa@MKmassage.com            Text: 708 • 704 • 7151

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