Why Every Mama to Be Should Try Prenatal Massage
Nothing makes a massage sound more enticing than the aches and pains of pregnancy. After all, pregnancy is hard work. Your body is working overtime to build a whole additional body, so it's not surprising that low back pain and aching feet are part of the deal.
If you're craving a spa day to get rid of those pesky knots and give your swollen feet a rest, we feel ya. Here's what the experts say about prenatal massage.
Is Prenatal Massage Safe?
Good news. Prenatal massages are considered very safe, as long as you follow a few guidelines. Massage during the first trimester can potentially worsen morning sickness, so listen to your body. If you start to feel dizzy or queasy, hold off until those first, tough weeks have passed.
Beyond the fourth month of pregnancy, it's important to avoid laying on your back since the weight of your baby can compress important blood vessels and potentially cause complications. It's also wise to avoid deep pressure on the legs during pregnancy, just in case you've developed blood clots that can be dislodged by intense massage work.
Other than that, the risks of prenatal massage are minimal. There's no magic pressure point that will bring on premature labor. As long as you're comfortable, your massage therapist can knead away at your tight shoulders and aching lumbar region as much as you'd like.
What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Massages?
The benefits of prenatal massage are mostly the same as the perks of getting a massage at any other time, only magnified. Research shows that prenatal massages can:
- Improve blood flow
- Give the lymphatic system a boost
- Reduce neck, back and joint pain
- Alleviate sciatica
- Reduce leg cramps and minor swelling of the hands and feet
- Relax your body and lower levels of stress hormones
Documented benefits aside, massages during pregnancy give your body and mind a well-deserved break. The stressors of daily life are enough to make anyone crave a soothing massage. When your body is working overtime, it's even more important to rest up and give yourself time for self-care.
When Is the Best Time to Get a Prenatal Massage?
Since prenatal massages are safe throughout your pregnancy, the answer is easy: whenever you want one. Book a massage whenever you're feeling extra achy or tired, or just because it feels good.
If you can only schedule one or two, consider waiting until the last few months of pregnancy. That's when the toll on your body reaches a peak.
A well-timed massage can help keep the discomfort at bay until delivery day arrives.
How Much Do Prenatal Massages Cost?
The cost of a prenatal massage varies depending on where you go and the length of a session. Health insurance may cover part of it, but check with your provider to be sure.
As one might expect, the longer the massage, the more it costs. The average rate is $80/hour, with prices ranging between about $60-100, depending on where you live. Longer massages tend to cost less per minute, so consider splurging and getting a 90-minute or two-hour massage if it's within your budget.
Don't forget to factor in a tip, too. While many massage therapists include gratuity within their fee, some don't. If that's the case, going rate for tips is 15-20 percent of the total massage bill.
Where Should I Get a Prenatal Massage?
Any massage therapist can safely work on pregnant women, but those who specialize in prenatal massage typically have the best (and safest) setups. Look for a provider that offers special bolsters to keep the weight off of your growing belly during your massage.
If you're more comfortable having a massage at your own home, some massage therapists are willing to do in-home massages for a slightly higher fee.
No Budget for a Spa Day? Try a DIY Prenatal Massage
They say the best things in life are free, so why not enjoy a free massage? Your partner is often the best person to turn to for a well-deserved back rub, but any close friend or family member will do. Support partners can give a safe and gentle at-home massage using these tips:
- Start with a gentle scalp massage. Move from the base of the skull to the hairline, applying gentle, kneading pressure to the scalp, using the fingertips.
- Move down to the shoulders. Using the thumbs or the base of the palms, apply pressure at the base of the neck, and draw it out toward the shoulders. Spend extra time on areas that feel tight or knotted.
- Lie down on your side or sit upright. Using lotion or massage oil to reduce uncomfortable friction, your partner can glide their hands along either side of the spine, kneading the muscles of the back with their thumbs in smooth, circular motions. Move up and down the entire spine to avoid missing any areas.
- Avoid massaging the belly, but don't ignore it. If you're comfortable with it, your partner can gently apply vitamin E oil to moisturize your skin and reduce the risk of developing stretch marks.
Last but not least, before you receive any type of prenatal massage, check with your OB/GYN, just to be safe. It's most likely fine, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or underlying health conditions.
Other than that, put your feet up, close your eyes and enjoy the rest and relaxation.