West Shore Prenatal Massage

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FAQs: Prenatal Massage

How is prenatal massage different from other types of massage?

At its most basic definition, prenatal massage is any massage that is modified to meet the unique needs of pregnancy.  Like Oncology Massage (for people with cancer) or Infant Massage, it is defined by its specific clientele rather than by recognizably distinct theory and techniques (such as Shiatsu or Thai Massage).   In fact, though it is commonly based on standard Swedish methods, it can include a wide range of others such as Acupressure, Deep Tissue, or Reflexology. Because it isn't a separate "style" per se, it is often oversimplified to be "just a regular massage with the client lying on her side." 

However, more comprehensively defined, prenatal massage is massage that requires adaptations to changing pregnancy physiology and skill in addressing the most common prenatal musculoskeletal pains. This is aided by the knowledge of pregnancy-related health risks,trimester precautions, and other criteria not applicable to "general" massage. 

Is seeing a specialist necessary?

Many therapists provide wonderful prenatal massage without needing to specialize.  However, those who specialize carry the advantages of more experience, better equipment, and advanced training.  Clients have shared the following concerns -- among others -- when dissatisfied with prenatal massage received elsewhere:

(a) "The therapist lacked confidence and didn't know how to (apply pressure, massage my hamstrings, etc.) with me lying on my side."

(b) "I couldn't get comfortable with the plain bed pillows provided."

(c) "S/he was overly cautious and wouldn't (provide deep pressure, massage my feet, etc.)...so I didn't get the massage that I wanted."

With a background that includes 80 hours of prenatal education and several thousand appointments, I have extensive experience working in the side-lying position.  Special bolsters and an adjustable incline table ensure superior comfort and support. As for comment (c), see next FAQ.  

 

All other things aside. . . As in every field, therapists have their preferences, and many simply don't like prenatal massage.  This isn't a criticism; I don't enjoy certain types of massage either (so I just don't offer them).   But regarding your pregnancy, wouldn't you like to receive your massage from someone who is truly happy and honored to be there?

Is it true that pregnant women should not have (a) deep pressure, (b) foot/shoulder massage, or (c) first trimester massage? 

 

Deep Pressure: Deep pressure is safe for most pregnancies.  Exceptions will be explained.  Deep abdominal massage during pregnancy is never performed.

 

Foot and Shoulder Massage:  Treatment of certain acupressure and reflexology points is avoided as specific techniques are believed (by some) to help initiate labor.  However, general massage of these areas is perfectly safe.  

 

First Trimester Massage: Since nearly all miscarriages occur in the first trimester, many therapists deny service at this time to avoid being perceived as the cause.  The reality is that no link has been established between massage and miscarriage.   All of the 4 nationally recognized, respected, and published prenatal massage experts* believe that first trimester massage is safe with uncomplicated pregnancies.  I am happy to offer first-trimester massage to those with doctor/midwife clearance and no complications.

*Carole Osborne, Elaine Stillerman, Kate Jordan, Claire Marie Miller  

In what position will I be lying for my massage?

Positioning will be influenced by trimester and comfort level, with increased time lying on the side as pregnancy progresses.  Most choose to spend part of the time face-up at an angle (semi-supine).  I do not use face-down (prone) positioning for prenatal massage.


I am almost at my due date.  Can I still get a massage?
 
Yes, massage is safe all the way up to (and even beyond) your due date.
 
 

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