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Massage in Pregnancy

Massage in your pregnant months has therapeutic effects on your body and mind. If your partner is doing it for you it is one way of having him feel involved in your pregnancy. Massage is not just for labor but because of the comfort it brings you should have a massage often enough during pregnancy.

  • Massage helps release tension and clears the mind
  • Massage can be comforting
  • Massage improves circulation, alleviates digestive and elimination problems
  • Massage helps lessen minor aches and stiff muscles
  • Massage is soothing and encourages sleep

The Different Techniques

As your pregnancy advances, you will need to try different positions and use pillows for support. By the fifth month lying on your side with plenty of pillows around your stomach area and under your upper legs is advisable. Different techniques involve different movements and strokes.

  • Effleurage is basically a gentle massage with the fingertips in an up and down or circular motion on larger surfaces like the back.
  • Percussion is chopping in short and quick movements. This technique should be avoided during pregnancy. Unless you want it so bad, restrict this method to your legs only.
  • Petrissage involves grasping and squeezing to create blood circulation and relaxation of the muscles.
  • Friction is rubbing in circular motion using one or more fingers, the thumbs or the heels of the hands.

Safety issue

These safety precautions should be adhered to for your own benefit.

  • Do not have a body massage during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy
  • Do not use intense or vigorous strokes especially on key areas such as abdomen, inner thigh and groin.
  • Do not apply pressure around the ankle areas because these points relate to the ovaries and the womb.
  • Do not use any essential oils in any form in the first trimester. Consult a qualified aromatherapist on what is suitable for use during pregnancy before even using the pre-mixed blends
  • Do not massage on varicose or spider veins
  • Do not lie on your back in late pregnancy

Aromatherapy Guide

Essential oils are extracted from plants. They have a soothing effect on the mind and body because of its relaxing or energizing properties. However because of its chemical content some oils should be totally avoided and those which can be used during pregnancy must be mixed with a carrier oil or water in the correct proportion. Avoid essential oils in the first 3 months of pregnancy. Do a patch test on your arm to check for skin reactions. If you have any doubts consult a qualified aromatherapist.

Essential oils to Use

  • After the first trimester citrus oils in a burner to uplift moods and for rejuvenation
  • From week 24 chamomile oil for relaxation and insomnia
  • From week 28 lavender oil for relaxation and insomnia
  • In the final weeks neroli oil for insomnia and tension
  • Mix 5 drops of essential oil with 25 ml of carrier oil such as jojoba or almond oil

Essentials oils to Avoid

  • During pregnancy avoid cajuput, cinnamon leaf, clary sage, fennel, jasmine, lavender to name a few
  • Before 28 weeks, myrrh, rosemary, sweet marjoram
  • If you have high BP rosemary and thyme
  • If you have allergy, asthma or eczema wheatgerm or nut oils

Some Massage Techniques

If you don't have time for a whole body massage, don't hurry the movements but focus on few areas instead. Leg and ankle massage are excellent for helping the mother deal with edema. Some steps to follow to realize the full potential of the massage:

  • Sit comfortably with good support to the back and legs like a good massage chair or a comfortable chair with a foot stool. Your partner should apply gentle but firm pressure for 3-5 times using both the thumb pads on the upper shin area.
  • Move down the leg; support one foot with one hand and use the other hand to do the massage work. Again using the thumb pad on the ankle bone, apply gentle but firm pressure for about the same number of times as above.
  • Move down to the toes. Your partner will support one foot and take the little toe between his index finger and thumb. He will gently squeeze and pull in a downward movement rotating the toe a little. Repeat this with each toe. Repeat these steps with the other leg from the shin to the toes. Finish off with your partner holding your feet gently for about a minute.Neck and lower back are often the weakest area and most prone to aches. Muscle tension tends to build easily culminating to stiff shoulders and backache.
  • In all back massages the stroke is on the up mode. The massage will begin from the bottom of the back to the top. Your partner will glide his hands up the back gently but firmly (effleurage), across the shoulders and return to the starting position. Repeat this couple of times. He can next work up the back with small circles (friction) using his finger pads in opposite directions until your partner reaches the shoulder area. Repeat the sequence few times.
  • Next, your partner will bring his hands gently down to your shoulders; then with his thumb pads on the neck muscles and the finger pads over the front of the shoulders, he will begin to squeeze the shoulder muscles between the heels of the hands and fingers (petrissage), working outwards towards the tops of the arms and then back in. This can be repeated a few times.

When and Where

Focus on areas other than the bump. Massages done on the abdomen should be feather light strokes

First trimester - Head or face massage to ease the headaches away and help relax facial muscles. Avoid body massage

Second trimester - Since indigestion and insomnia are common, massage of the back, shoulders and buttocks will help to relax those tight muscles and induce sleep. Strokes on the abdomen can be done at this stage but should be light and gentle.

Third trimester - The back, neck, shoulders and the legs are troublesome areas. Focus on these parts to feel the comfort. Leg massage will help reduce water retention and relieve the 'heavy leg' feeling you are most prone to during the final weeks.

Related Article of Massage in Pregnancy

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