Pregnancy massage - what is safe and what do I need to know?

Pregnancy text  


I am five months pregnant with a full time job and an active toddler. When I get more than an hour to spend on myself I look at my Pilates DvD, shrug, and walk to the door to hunt down my nearest thai massage place. Sure, I'm the other half of Go Go Physio so you'd think I'd have massages on tap. But you know what they say..a builder's home and all that...


Anyhoo, off I go to get a massage in Coogee, and no sooner do I open the door when I'm given the third degree. "Just How pregnant are you? Why type of massage do you want? A foot massage? Hmmm... Ok... But we will have to do it softly. It's risky to give you firm pressure"


Righto. Massage over. And whilst too soft for my usual liking  it was thoroughly enjoyable. But as soon as I got home I asked my resident in-home Physio hubby - what exactly are the rules of pregnancy massage? What is safe? At what stages? The info out there is overwhelming and contradictory - I felt my fellow pregnancy brethren could use some professional advice!


So over to the physio –

From my perspective I never treat a pregnant woman prone (tummy lying) past the first trimester because:


  •  This position puts strain on the lumbar, uterine and pelvic structures, which are changing rapidly at this stage of pregnancy.
  •  This position can increase rotation of the Sacro-Iliac joint, which is commonly injured during pregnancy.
  •  Prone lying can shorten the muscles in your lower back and make the experience uncomfortable during pregnancy.
  •  The lumbar vertebrae are compressed in this position.


With the support of pillows or pregnancy designed pillows treatment effects are best achieved in a side lying position. As a mobile physio business I have been on lots of call outs to women in the 3rd trimester, in a lot of pain, and i have had no problems with positioning.  There are pregnancy designed tables and equipment that can get you into a prone position but I would not recommend this alternative either.


With regards to massage pressure during pregnancy I routinely use deep massage in my treatments on pregnant women to relieve pain. The cautious nature that some therapists have seems to be from either a lack of training in pre/post natal care or our “law suit” conscious telling us to be gentle. Dry needling and acupuncture is another kettle of fish so that might be for another blog in the future. Obviously it goes without saying that deep pressure should not be used without correct training  and this will differ for every client.


So ladies find the right therapist for you and don’t put up with aromatherapy massage just because you are pregnant. If you prefer it firmer, make sure you ask!


Special thanks to our guest blogger, Jess Paterson (working mumma of a 2-year-old, with a second on the way, and never enough time to get all the massages she craves!)