For many of us a massage may only seem like a luxury, but when you are pregnant it often becomes a necessity. But still many people put it off until the last minute. While research shows that massage therapy can help women to have shorter more comfortable labors and quicker recoveries, a one-time session will not bring about the same benefits as multiple sessions throughout your pregnancy.
It is difficult to maintain balance during pregnancy. It seems like if it is not your hormones it is your ligaments. Massage can help to maintain posture, hormone levels and fluid levels in the body. It also can help to keep your organs functioning better.
While there are massage therapists that prefer to not work during the 1st trimester, there is no evidence to support that it should be avoided. But even with that caveat many women may not want to be massaged during this time. Frequent urination, morning sickness, breast tenderness and dizziness may make a full hour session uncomfortable. Your therapist can work with you to create a shorter session designed for stress and fatigue relief. Massage in the first trimester may also allow you a time to focus on yourself at the start of this new journey.
Massage during the second trimester is like “preventative maintenance” for what is to come. Your morning sickness is probably over, but your body is just beginning to shift. Massage can help to encourage deeper breathing and help alleviate back pain. You may find that constipation and/or heartburn are becoming an issue during this time. Massage can also help improve digestion.
During the third trimester massage will help to prepare the body for labor. It will help alleviate the pain caused by joint separation or ligament pain. Stress levels rise during the third trimester as it finally sinks in that you will have the baby and soon. Massage can help you relax and, as in the first trimester, give you time to focus on just yourself.
If you have a doula she will most likely perform some sort of labor massage to help with pain management and stress. If you do not have a doula taking a series of childbirth education classes and/or a workshop in labor massage for couples might not be a bad idea.
Massage therapy can be a wonderful compliment to a healthy pregnancy. If you have any questions about whether massage during pregnancy is appropriate for you, ask your birth care provider.