“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.” — Harriette Hartigan
Prenatal massage shares many of the goals of regular massage – to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and just make you feel good. However it's also tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies, and therapists who are trained in prenatal massage adjust their techniques accordingly. Benefits of prenatal massage include: *reduces tension/stress and anxiety/headaches *supports a healthy in utero environment *decreases chronic muscles tension, restores postural balance, normalizes joint ROM *increases circulation-bring nutrients to tissues, eliminates waste products, reduces swelling, normalizes blood pressure *elevates mood, encourages loving maternal care *reduces pain *treats common discomforts of pregnancy *prepares the woman physically, emotionally and mentally for labor.
One of the most commonly asked questions about pre/postnatal massage is "how do I lay on the table?" At Rediscover Massage Therapy we use the side-lying and semi-reclined positioning during the massage. While there are "pregnancy tables" with belly cut outs available, we choose not to use them because they don't offer proper support when the woman lays face down on them (prone position).
According to Elaine Stillerman, a leading expert in the field of prenatal massage, "Tables with cut-out holes to facilitate prone positioning are not recommended. In a prone position, the tables with cut-outs do not encourage a posterior pelvic tilt to elongate the lumbar spine, but will compress the lower back instead. The table offers no support of the uterine ligaments and may increase the intrauterine pressure when sufficient force if applied to the client's lower back and pelvis. Breast tenderness is compounded on these tables, and the abdominal hole only accommodates those women who happen to conform to the size and shape of the cut-out. " -Elaine Stillerman "Prenatal Massage 2003" These tables can also increase diastasis recti separation which, while it does occur naturally with most pregnancies, further widening will likely increase the need for surgical repair.
Instead, we use a variety of pillows and supports to support the woman in a side-lying position and covered with the sheet and light blanket. There will be a pillow under her head, a small one under her belly if needed, a "cuddle pillow", and 2-3 pillows between the legs to re-align the hips and relieve pressure on her back. During the face up part of the massage, she leans back against a large wedge pillow that keeps her semi-reclined with pillows under her knees and feet to reduce swelling and a small pillow is placed under the right hip to ensure proper blood flow to the inferior vena cava. The positions are very comfortable and most women say it is the most comfortable they have been throughout their pregnancy.
"While I enjoy therapeutic, relaxation and hot stone massage I am finding a real passion in prenatal and postnatal massage therapy. Working with women during their pregnancy is such an honor. Being able to help ease their aches and pains even a little bit, reducing stress for them, or just giving them somewhere they can just relax and enjoy the changes going on is amazing. I felt inspired to take additional pre/post natal massage training in 2011 because I found that the basic prenatal massage taught in school was good, as long as there was absolutely nothing out of the norm during her pregnancy, and realistically how often does that really happen? I have loved working with expectant mothers since! In my training I learned of the complications that can arise; and proper cushioning in order to support you and your growing/changing body to reduce ligament strain and keep the body aligned as best as possible. If you have any questions during, before or after your pre/postnatal treatment feel free to use the contact form and email me and I will respond as soon as possible!!" -Ayla Ginther, RMT.
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