Pregnancy can be a pain in the butt, literally. It can also be a pain in the back, neck, feet, wrists, hips, and, well, you get the idea. So if you're pregnant and want some pain relief, a prenatal massage might just be what the doctor ordered what the doctor ordered. But can you get a massage when you're pregnant? Growing another human being inside your body doesn't mean self care goes out the window, but is a prenatal massage actually safe?
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), a professional prenatal massage can be a great way to treat common pregnancy symptoms like back pain and swelling. According to APA's website, prenatal massage can also reduce stress, help you manage anxiety and depression and can even help you sleep better, which probably sounds amazing. In other words, not only are they safe, they're extremely beneficial.
What to Expect reports that studies have shown pregnancy massage can make you feel better by relaxing muscles, reducing stress, increasing blood flow throughout your body, and helping your lymphatic work more efficiently, which can be important during pregnancy. I mean, honestly, how cool is that?
One recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that pregnant women who had regular prenatal massages, along with aromatherapy, reported less stress and that their immune systems actually worked better than pregnant women who didn't get massages. Another review of prenatal massage research published in the Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that it can even improve birth outcomes, including reducing rates of prematurity and low birth weight.
Before you call and schedule an appointment, though, the APA recommends finding a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage and experienced at working with pregnant women. Most providers have special tables and pillows to help you get comfortable, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in. As always, they advise people to talk to their health care provider before getting a prenatal massage, especially if they have a high-risk pregnancy, hypertension, preeclampsia, or have recently given birth.
You may have heard that foot rubs might be dangerous during pregnancy, potentially causing miscarriages and/or preterm labor. As Raechel Haller, licensed massage therapist writes on the Massage Therapy Development Centre website, these myths are completely unfounded in research or practice. According to Haller, foot massages are safe during pregnancy and can't cause uterine contractions. She suggests that some massage therapists might avoid prenatal massages because they believe rumors or for liability reasons, but if you find a certified massage therapist specializing in prenatal massage, chances are they'll be more than excited to work with you.
The bottom line: for most women, prenatal massage is not only safe, it can contribute to a healthier pregnancy. Now that's what I call #winning.