You are different ♡
Your body changes significantly in pregnancy, always make sure you are massaged by a practitioner who is familiar with these changes and can make you safe and comfortable.
It's a truly transformational time in both body and emotion. Regular massage in pregnancy can offer relief physically and release emotionally resulting in many benefits for both mother and child.
"Massage can minimize the effect of depression, experienced by almost 20% of pregnant women, and replace it with feelings of joyous expectation."– Elaine Stillerman, 'Prenatal Massage'
What to wear?
As far as I'm concerned this is totally up to you. You can stay fully clothed, take everything off but your undies, loose the bra but keep your socks on - whatever works for you. Some people keep their undies on to begin with then sometime chaneg their minds and slip off their bra once they are feeling relaxed and decide that they may get more benefit from me being able to touch more of their back. But really - it doesn't matter. I will literally work arund you.
It's great if you have has a shower before you arrive, but that's not always possible or practical. You do not have to apologies for your body, your clothes, your hair or chipped nail varnish.
Useful to think about - You might want to bring a hairband or clip so you can tie your hair back. Maybe pick some not-for-best undies in case they get oil on them.
Generally massages take place lying on your front so that the massage therapist can get to those areas that hold tension in your body - for most of us that's the back and shoulders. In pregnancy your shifting center of gravity and presence of relaxin means that often those places are holding even more stress, but you're no longer going to be safe or comfortable on your front!
Most pregnancy massage takes place lying on your side, supported by a range of bolsters and cushions to help you feel supported and relaxed through the treatment. It's important that you are able to listen to your body and to let them know what's comfortable and that you can change position whenever you need or want to.
Fluid and hydration
Your blood volume increases, in fact on average - it almost doubles. This can mean you need extra care in terms of changing position, there's more chance that you could feel a little dizzy at the end of a massage, so you may need more time to rest and rehydrate before getting ready to leave.
An experienced ractitioner will not be fully aware of the changes in later pregnancy so you don't need to worry about leaking colostrum or going into labour on the couch. It's all part of the process of working with pregnancy and postpartum. They will have fresh bedding for each client and may even have spare breastpads in case you need some.
I was trained to do several physical checks as well as asking questions before each massage. We'll chat about your physical and emotional wellbeing, and what you'd like to get from the session - this all stays confidential (as long as there are no safegurading concerns). This can be super helpful to get clear on what you need and so that if talking might be part of what you need, I'll have my doula hat on for listening to you.
One weird check I always do is to look at your feet and legs. I know! It sounds odd, but I wil be checking for areas that might suggest there is a chance of varicose veins or blood issues. There's a higher risk of clots in pregnancy (which is why you have to wear those super sexy socks if you fly). I've never noticed anything unusual, but I've always checked. If there were any concerns, you would get booked in with the midwife and I'll reschedule your appointment.
I'm a trauma-aware practitioner and will ask for consent and feedback.
But I *hate*people touching my feet. That's OK! I don't have to touch or massage anywhere you don't like. The leg massage I offer is manual lymphatic drainage, which is super light touch. Most people find it very relaxing and it can really help with the swelling in feet and ankles that can happen in later pregnancy.
More sensitive skin is really common in pregnancy, I offer a choice of organic massage oils. One of them is plain, simple, vegan and nut-free. The other is a pregnancy-safe blend of lavender, chamomile and frankincense. You can have a smell ad decide on the day or let me know in advance if you have specific skin needs.
More great reasons to have a massage
(or gift one to a loved one!)
• stress reduction, as well a reducing antenatal anxiety, benefits are passed onto the baby too
• less chance of premature birth with regular massages in pregnancy
• reduces odema (swelling in the joints)
• bonding for mother and baby
• time for pregnant person to rest and relax
• opportunity to talk about wellbeing and worries in a relaxed but professional environment
• massage increases serotonin and melatonin - hormones that improve the quality of sleep
Emilie is a doula and pelvic floor coach. She offers pregnancy and postnatal massage in Frome, Somerset • Bath North East Somerset • Bristol, UK.