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Massage may be the most welcome of all spa treatments for pregnant women. However, it is also the one in which comfort and safety are the most crucial. In this guide, we look at what you need to know about enjoying a massage when pregnant.
A pregnancy massage is a safe and gentle method of massage for a mum-to-be to get pain- and stress-relief while pregnant. Expectant mothers have a lot of extra weight to carry and can suffer from lower back pain, swollen feet and calves, and other ailments, so a massage can provide some much-needed respite.
A pregnancy massage should be carried out by a therapist who is trained in this speciality and understands how to correctly position and touch the client. We are confident that all the spas we have registered for pregnancy packages do have adequate expertise.
There are two types of targeted pregnancy massage, pre-natal and post-natal, to support mum pre-birth and after the birth. Some pregnancy treatments include foot soaks and massaging the arms, legs and scalp. For more on pregnancy spa treatments, see our pregnancy spa guide.
It is, as long as you are mindful of the restrictions in terms of positioning and essential oils. Be sure to let us at SpaSeekers know when you book your spa break how far along you are and also tell the spa on arrival. It is always advisable to seek your doctor’s advice ahead of time. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or other complications, a massage may be off-limits until you have safely given birth and you have medical clearance to have spa treatments.
Some spas have policies in place about treating pregnant women. In general, the first and last trimesters are the crucial periods of pregnancy, so the second trimester is probably the best time to enjoy a pregnancy massage. In the first 12 weeks, you must avoid abdominal massage altogether. In your second and third trimesters, it is important not to lie on your back.
The benefits of a pregnancy massage are not purely physical. Simply being touched can also be a soothing antidote to anxiety and depression and an effective way for an expectant mum to experience emotional support. Additional benefits can include better quality sleep and more energy. Since relaxation is key to an enjoyable pregnancy and comfortable labour, it’s not hard to see why spas now offer mums-to-be an array of specialist pregnancy packages.
There are several types, the most common being a massage style that is similar to Swedish massage. Obviously, expectant mothers cannot lie on their fronts unless using specially adapted massage beds or pregnancy supports. Instead, they are usually carefully positioned to sit slightly upright or sideways (never completely flat and face-up – this is particularly important after week 30 of pregnancy) with pillows and padding for extra support. The products used will be gentle and safe for pregnant women’s skin.
Alternative styles of pregnancy massage you may come across include:
- Deep-tissue massage: This is a firmer massage technique that works deep into the muscles. You must never have this type of massage in the abdominal area during pregnancy.
- Shiatsu massage: This is a lighter-touch massage that can aid relaxation. This type of massage is good for stress-busting!
Some spas have special massage beds with a gap midway along to accommodate a mother-to-be’s tummy. Others massage a mum-to-be on a huge comfy beanbag on the floor!
The more stimulating aromatherapy essential oils (basil, cedarwood, cinnamon bark, citronella, clary sage, jasmine, juniper, lemongrass, myrrh, peppermint, rockrose, rosemary, sage, thyme and vetiver) are contraindicated (not allowed) during pregnancy. Some of these are considered potent enough to influence foetal cell development and even to induce contractions.
Gentler soothing essential oils (diluted in a base or carrier oil), such as lavender, bergamot, frankincense, grapefruit, lemon, neroli, sandalwood and ylang ylang are considered safe to use in the second trimester of a healthy pregnancy onwards. Peppermint oil, sometimes recommended in the first and second trimester to help curtail the nausea of morning sickness, is also thought to decrease milk production, so is best avoided as you approach your final trimester prior to breast feeding.
If you want to use your favourite fragrance-free organic oil (coconut is good) during your massage, don’t be afraid to bring along a small bottle for your spa therapist to use – they should be happy to oblige. Just let the spa know ahead of time.
For other pregnancy spa treatments and more helpful advice, see our pregnancy spa guide.