As a child slowly grows inside the womb, a mother’s body starts to adjust. This allows it to compensate for the extra weight and extra body to feed typically causing a lot of discomfort.
It’s quite common for women to turn to prenatal massage during pregnancy to help relieve the added stress to the muscles, back, veins, and other physical aspects of their body, but how safe is it and can it actually induce labor?
The answer to this question specifically depends on how your pregnancy has affected you so far, any previous or current medical conditions, as well as what trimester you’re currently in. However, there’s very little research on the subject.
You should always consult with your prenatal healthcare provider to find out if prenatal massage is safe for your situation. Additionally, make sure that the massage therapist is specially trained in giving prenatal massages as it requires a specialized approach.
But, is it safe in general? Read on to discover the benefits of a prenatal massage and its potential risks.
Why Should You Get A Prenatal Massage?
As mentioned, the body makes several adjustments when pregnant to assist with the process of bringing a child into the world. These changes may cause discomfort to any pregnant woman’s body.
Prenatal massage can heal this pain by providing:
1. Lower back pain relief
The main change is the obvious addition of a belly, but it doesn’t just grow without affecting anything else. Our bodies tend to shift posture to compensate for the extra weight, helping to balance it according to the new center of gravity.
The added pressure on the back to compensate does make balancing the belly easier, however it also introduces a lot of extra pressure on the muscles and joints in the lower back.
This is why pregnant women often feel a good deal of pain and discomfort around that area and prenatal massage can help to relieve that pain.
2. Stress relief
All of the added physical changes coupled with the hormonal and mental changes tend to compound one into a large clump of stress. A prenatal massage can help in this regard by getting rid of the knots in the body while providing a calming effect to the brain, making some of that stress melt away.
3. Improved sleep quality
In the same vein, a prenatal massage helps the body relax and release tension which in turn helps pregnant women who have difficulty falling asleep too. This is much more common than you may think, and getting those few extra hours can mean a lot.
4. Help relieve swelling
Finally, one of the main benefits is to help reduce swelling from pregnancy induced edema. Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues.
This fluid mostly accumulates in various joints in the leg area as the body isn’t used to carrying around the extra weight quite yet.
Veins are the part of your body that suffer most from edema because of pressure that the fluid is putting on them. This is why many pregnant women suffer from varicose veins which is evident by all the broken capillaries behind the knee and along other areas of the leg that carry the load.
The Risks Of A Prenatal Massage
While taking a prenatal massage is all well and good, there are still a few things to be concerned about that you might not be aware of at first. Here are the ones that you should pay close attention to:
1. Massage therapists who aren’t certified in giving prenatal massages
While you might be eager to get one of these miracle massages, not everyone is actually qualified to provide one as pregnant women need special treatment when coming in for a massage.
A pregnant woman can’t lie down on her belly to receive a massage because that would endanger her unborn child, but she also can’t lie on her back because she may restrict blood flow to the fetus.
Normally, the woman is told to lay on her side with a special pillow placed in front of her to help accommodate the belly while the massage is performed. Alternatively, she can also be semi-reclined so the abdominal pressure is better distributed.
2. Getting a massage too early in pregnancy
While there isn’t much evidence supporting that this is a bad thing, many doctors tend to avoid mention of prenatal massages during the first trimester.
They usually wait until the second trimester to even bring up the idea due to the potential chance of it leading to a miscarriage.
3. Having a massage with an underlying medical condition
If you’ve already been diagnosed with an increased risk of going into preterm labor, it’s very likely you’d be advised against doing a prenatal massage. This is to avoid the risk of inducing labor by accident given your higher risk rate.
In addition to this, there are other issues that may lead to avoiding this procedure, such as having high blood pressure or being diagnosed with preeclampsia during the pregnancy, all conditions that might cause more harm than good during a prenatal massage.
Having blood clots that may get dislodged during one of these massages is another risk to your health and the health of the baby in general and these can be pretty common around the leg area during pregnancy, making the swelling relief benefit somewhat less appealing.
Finally, if your placenta has shifted to the bottom of the uterus meaning that you might be suffering from placenta previa, that too might pose a potential risk that you’d want to avoid.
Can Having A Prenatal Massage Induce Labor?
As there aren’t many studies done on the subject matter, doctors don’t typically recommend it to women who are in their first trimester and who already have increased chances of preterm labor due to an underlying medical condition.
While the American Pregnancy Association does say that a prenatal massage is safe at any stage of pregnancy, many massage therapists will refuse to treat a woman who’s still in her first trimester as the risk of miscarriage is higher during this time.
In addition to this, certain pressure points in the body are believed to be capable of inducing labor but there’s not enough scientific evidence to support this claim.
If you’re interested in learning natural ways to induce labor once you’ve reached your 39th or 40th week of pregnancy, prenatal massage may help get things started. However, you may not want to test it out before your body is ready to go into labor.
Ultimately, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about your options depending on where you are in your pregnancy.
Related Post: Curb Walking: Can It Induce Labor?
While the idea of a prenatal massage may sound marvellous (and it really is given all of the potential benefits), if you are experiencing any of the potential health risks, it’s best to avoid them.
But, this is the kind of decision that is best not to make on your own. Always make sure to consult with your family doctor or a certified healthcare professional on the matter.
They are the best qualified individuals to give you an adequate answer as they’re better acquainted with your physical health than anyone on the internet.
Use the advice given here as more of a guideline and never place it above the advice of a local professional to ensure your child’s overall safety so that you can end up seeing a healthy, smiling baby.
I do hope that you’ll end up getting to enjoy the wonders of a prenatal massage though, mamma, they really make you feel like a new woman!