I’m a fan of a massage and like to have Jo or one of the other experienced HomeSpa London (insert link http://www.homespalondon.co.uk/) therapists come to give me a massage in the comfort and convenience of my home when I can (while my little one plays nearby), but I’ve never had a pregnancy massage before.
I generally like quite a deep tissue massage and so I was interested to see how it would be different, how I would feel afterwards and what the health benefits are.
The main differences in the set-up are that a pregnancy masseuse is careful about the oil she uses (Jo used a natural massage balm suitable for pregnancy), it’s a full-body treatment save for your stomach and certain ‘trigger points’ (which you might like to have activated close to your due date!) and you’re positioned differently – either on your side, bolstered comfortably with pillows at your shoulder and legs as I was at home, or on a specially designed bed with a cut-out area to allow you to be on your front without any pressure on your bump.
I’ve been pretty lucky in my pregnancy so far, aside from a little muscle stiffness between my shoulders and lower back. The pressure of Jo’s massage, is a little less than pre-pregnancy but still strong and certainly enough to give that feeling of working and relaxing the muscles.
Pregnancy prompts lots of changes to the physiology of your body; muscles and tendons relax and stretch, your centre of gravity changes, which can prompt muscle tension (especially in your upper back, shoulders, lower back and hips) and swelling in your extremities is also common.
A pregnancy massage, whilst reducing emotional stress, also serves to simulate circulation, which distributes nutrients to vital organs, helps lower or keep blood pressure balanced and an added benefit is that massage releases oxytocin, the pain reducing hormone – which could provide relief of pain during labour if you time it right.
I felt incredibly calm and relaxed after the massage – in fact I could have gone straight to sleep afterwards – and the stiffness in my muscles was completely alleviated.
Aside from the fact that I felt great, I love that research suggests that the baby can benefit from massage too, as 'feel good' endorphins released during the massage are passed onto the baby. It’s also quite common that your baby will wriggle and kick as it, too, responds to the massage treatment.
I’d definitely recommend a pregnancy massage as a lovely way to relax, to bond with your unborn baby and to help ease some of the common ailments associated with the stresses and strains of your changing body. Massage is recommended from three months of pregnancy.
By Alicia Stewart, Editor ClaphamMums.com, at 23 weeks pregnant