Pregnancy and massage


Pregnancy and massage

Summary: Massage can greatly alleviate symptoms that arise from pregnancy. Massage is safe for low-risk pregnancies and for high-risk pregnancies certain adaptations can be made to ensure safety and comfort. At Intent Health, our RMTs are up to date on current research regarding prenatal, pregnancy and postpartum massages.

Sore hips, aching feet, back pain, hand and wrist pain are commonly experienced during pregnancy (1). Receiving prenatal massages can help alleviate pregnancy-related aches and pains and be a wonderful form of self-care.

Studies have demonstrated that massage therapy during pregnancy can reduce levels of anxiety and depression, improve mood and sleep, and reduce back pain and leg pain (2, 3). Therapeutic breast massage can also help with management of breast discomfort and engorgement (4).

“Receiving massages during pregnancy was an important part of my self care. It was my first pregnancy and my RMT really helped with my back pain and stress levels. It was nice to have that quiet time to look forward to.” —Pregnant patient
“A family member had told me to always sleep on my left side during my pregnancy but my left hip was getting so sore that I could barely sit at my desk anymore. My RMT showed me a research article that let me know I could vary my sleep position. What a relief! After a few massages and daily walks my hip pain went away.” —Pregnant patient

You’ve booked a pregnancy massage with us. What can you expect?

One of our Registered Massage Therapists will discuss your intake form, health history and any concerns or preferences you might have, and perform an assessment in order to create a safe and enjoyable massage. For instance, if your pregnancy is high-risk, we may offer options when it comes to treatment position, areas to massage and the length of the session. All and all, we will adjust the massage to your needs. For instance:

  • Our pregnancy pillow system can be used to lie face-down or in a side-lying position
  • Our massage tables can be adjusted to a semi-reclined position with an extra pillow under your knees or lower back, if needed
  • We’ll make sure the temperature is comfortable with options for cool towels and fans, or safe heat application, and
  • Our RMTs can also help dispel common pregnancy myths such as what sleeping positions are encouraged and discouraged (5).

I’ve given birth. Is there anything I need to know about postpartum massage?

The first few days to months after giving birth can be life-changing and overwhelming. Postpartum massage can help reduce anxiety, insomnia and residual aches. It can also help manage breast pain, blocked ducts, scar tissue and swelling. Talk to your primary care professional if you experienced any complications during labour or have concerns about postpartum massage (6, 7, 8).

I’d like to book a pregnancy massage. Who do you recommend at your clinic?

At Intent Health, all of our RMTs are comfortable providing massage to pregnant patients. Victoria Rogolino, Jenn Sharman and Jen Harvey have taken additional training in treating pregnant patients. They understand contraindications to treatment (when it’s not appropriate) and how to make adaptations in the case of other health conditions that benefit from massage therapy while pregnant. They can chat with you about any concerns you may have and create a treatment plan that is best for you, including homecare suggestions.

References

  1. Serdar K et al. Musculoskeletal Pain and Symptoms in Pregnancy: a Descriptive Study. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2018 Dec; 10(12): 229–234. Retrieved August 15, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262502/
  2. Field T, & Diego MA et al. Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 June;25(2):115-22. Retrieved August 15, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15715034/
  3. Witt, A. M. Therapeutic Breast Massage in Lactation for the Management of Engorgement, Plugged Ducts, and Mastitis. Sage Journals. December 7, 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0890334415619439
  4. Farine D & Gareth Seaward P. When it Comes to Pregnant Women Sleeping, is Left Right? J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2007 Oct;29(10):841-2. Retrieved August 28, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17915068
  5. Jahdi, F., Mehrabadi, M., Mortazavi, F., & Haghani, H. The Effect Of Slow-Stroke Back Massage on the Anxiety Levels of Iranian Women on the first Postpartum Day. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. June 7, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5068252/.
  6. Field, T. Pregnancy and Labor Massage. Expert review of obstetrics & gynecology. March, 2010. Retrieved August 28, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2870995/.
  7. Metzger, S. Postpartum Massage.American Pregnancy Association. July 16, 2021. Retrieved August 28, 2021, from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/first-year-of-life/postpartum-massage/

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