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Pregnancy Massage Frequently Asked Questions

 

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There are certain questions we hear frequently regarding massage during pregnancy. We intend to provide you with the information you seek and ease your mind about some of the common myths surrounding massage for pregnant women.

I heard you shouldn't have your feet massaged when you are pregnant. Is that true?

Do you use essential oils during pregnancy massage?

If essential oils are so dangerous, why are so many products for mother and baby available that contain essential oils?

Do I have to stop receiving massage close to my due date?

Is prenatal massage beneficial for the baby?

I had a massage before I found out I was pregnant.  Will my baby be alright? 

My skin feels so tight! Not just my belly, but all over.  What can I do? 

Sometimes the skin on my belly feels so tight. Is it safe to have it massaged?

How often should I receive massage when I am pregnant?

I've heard you shouldn't have a massage in the first trimester, yet you suggest once per month during that time.  Why?

How soon can I come back after the baby is born?

I've heard massage can release toxins.  Should I be massaged while breastfeeding?

I've heard lying face down can strain the uterine ligaments and add to back pain, yet you say you offer massage face down.  Why?

Are home massages machines dangerous for pregnant women? What about home foot spas?

If home foot spas are a concern, what about having a pedicure?

Other questions?

Q: I heard you shouldn't have your feet massaged when you are pregnant. Is that true?

A: Not true. Now more than ever your feet need relief from joint pressure and swelling. But there are acupressure points around the ankles and feet that, when actively and aggressively worked, can bring on contractions. This is handy during labor, but those specific places and techniques are carefully avoided until then. This is one of the many reasons to see a knowledgeable, pregnancy-certified therapist.

A pedicure will also include some massage of the feet, ankles and lower leg - it is important to either make sure your therapist knows areas to avoid, or to at least keep the massage portion of your pedicure to light pressure and avoid the ankles.

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Q: Do you use essential oils during pregnancy massage?

A: In most cases, no - even though some oils are generally recognised as safe to use during pregnancy, we err on the cautious side and choose not to use any.  The chemical  load from everyday life is such that we don't think it is worth adding more. When approaching labor we may use some labor supportive essential oils, and also very small quantities may be used for particular conditions during pregnancy, but in general we suggest it is best to avoid the use of essential oils on the skin during pregnancy.  

Q: If essential oils are so dangerous, why are so many products for mother and baby available that contain essential oils?

A: It is not that the essential oils are dangerous, it is the combined load of lots of different chemicals that is of concern (essential oils are a form of naturally found chemicals).  Some believe there is so much of a chemical load that a few essential oils won't make a difference, some don't know or don't care about the chemicals found in aromatherapy products.  We do care, and we generally avoid using essential oils during pregnancy to lessen the chemical load.
Click here for an article about the everyday toxic concerns during pregnancy.

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Q: Is prenatal massage beneficial for the baby?

A: Absolutely! Studies have shown that, when you receive a relaxing prenatal massage, the body naturally secretes endorphins. These "feel good" hormones traverse the placenta and ultimately soothe and relax your baby.

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Q: Do I have to stop receiving massage close to my due date?

A: You may be relieved to know that in most cases it is safe (and beneficial!) to receive massage up to your due date and beyond. Many women schedule a session on their due date so they have something to look forward to if they have not yet gone into labor. A massage is a great way to prepare your body for the experience of giving birth. Women on bed rest should receive modified massage, (very light pressure on extremities and no abdominal massage) and you should always consult your doctor if you have special circumstances.

Q: I had a massage before I found out I was pregnant.  Will my baby be alright? 

A: The concern about massage in the first trimester is that some believe it may contribute to a miscarriage, not damage to the baby.  If it's been more than a few days since you had the massage, you've nothing to worry about.  Even though we are very cautious about the use of essential oils during pregnancy, a one off massage using aromatherapy oils is probably not of as much concern as say the fumes when filling up your car with petrol.  There are some expensive essential oils used to induce labor, but these tend not to be used in everyday massages due to their expense so should not be a concern.

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Q: My skin feels so tight! Not just my belly, but all over.  What can I do? 

A: Each trimester brings hormonal, glandular and metabolic fluctuations that have a major effect on the way skin looks and feels.  In general, sebum reduces, collagen production is inhibited, and perspiration increases, creating greater skin fragility and dehydration. So keep up your water intake and essential fatty acids, and apply a quality moisturiser to face and body - we recommend using 100% jojoba, this is so natural you could safely eat if it you wanted to.  Don't forget the sunscreen for your face as hormones can cause a "pregnancy mask".  Taking an essential fatty acid supplement will also help with cracked heels, but make sure you get one that is suitable during pregnancy like Efanatal, and check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements. 

Q: Sometimes the skin on my belly feels so tight. Is it safe to have it massaged?

A: With proper technique and pressure levels, absolutely. By policy we do not massage abdomens in the first trimester. It is completely safe, as your uterus is still the size of a plum and protected by the bony structure of the pelvis. However, due to the high incident of miscarriage in the first trimester we avoid it because it tends to cause some anxiety, and the object of the massage is to reduce stress. After 12 weeks it is your option to request massage on your belly with light, circular strokes. This promotes skin elasticity and circulation to the general area. Especially in the third trimester, we like to think of it as baby's first massage!
For self massage, we again recommend 100% jojoba.

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Q: How often should I receive massage when I am pregnant?

A: Each woman and each pregnancy is different, so there is no standard answer for this question. We generally recommend once a month for the first and second trimester and, then more often during the 3rd trimester.  Many people opt for one per week for the last 2-3-weeks, though others are happy at one per month even at that stage. It is very much up to what you feel you need.

Q: I've heard you shouldn't have a massage in the first trimester, yet you suggest once per month during that time.  Why?

A: It is generally recommended that you avoid massage in the first trimester due to there being such a high risk time for miscarriage.  It is actually more a recommendation for the therapist to avoid being blamed for a miscarriage.  Many women are massaged early in the pregnancy before they realise they are pregnant with no ill effects.
If you are used to regular massages, there is no need to deprive yourself of your regular treatment. If you are trying to become pregnant, think you may be pregnant or know you are pregnant, make sure you let your therapist know - many commonly used aromatherapy essential oils are not safe to use during pregnancy and should be avoided.
If you are not a regular massage client, you probably won't bother to think about getting a massage during the first trimester - it's usually a little later on that the aches and pains of pregnancy need looking after.
We generally advise new clients to wait until their second trimester for a pregnancy massage, but they are usually making an enquiry in week 10 or 11 anyway.

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Q: How soon can I come back after the baby is born?

A: We have given massages as soon as one hour after the birth of the baby, and it seems to make a real difference in postpartum recovery. We like to be able to help as soon as possible, but realistically there are issues surrounding the logistics of childcare and feeding times. Home visits for those first few weeks make it much easier for you - even though the massage is a break for the new mother, we understand you may need to be interrupted.  Women who have had a Cesarean-section usually need to wait a few weeks.  The same cushioning system used during pregnancy allows much more comfortable massage while you are breastfeeding.

Q: I've heard massage can release toxins.  Should I be massaged while breastfeeding?

A: Yes, you are correct that massage can release toxins built up in the body (it's actually more that massage can relax tense areas and then oxygen and nutrients can then get to the area more easily, and THAT cleans out the toxins, not the actual massage).  Toxins released as a result of massage is not a concern for post-natal massage.  Your blood supply increased so much during pregnancy, it has already moved most toxins of concern that were there to moved before you had the baby. Toxins such as lactic acid from muscle use are not a concern for breast feeding as they are natural by products of the body.

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Q: I've heard lying face down can strain the uterine ligaments and add to back pain, yet you say you offer massage face down.  Why?

A: Our special cushioning system allows you to lie face down, half way between flat on the table and on all fours.  As your pregnancy continues, it may be almost on all fours.  This position is safe - on hands and knees is often recommended as a back stretch to ease back pain, and can even help with positioning the baby. You are supported on the bony structures of your body - the sternum down the middle of your chest and your hip bones, no weight it put on the belly.
Lying flat on a table with your belly over a hole in the massage table CAN add strain to uterine ligaments and to your back - lying over a hole in a massage table can be uncomfortable when you are not pregnant, so add the weight of the baby and it can be very uncomfortable.  We do not use a massage table like this, not do we recommend the use of a massage table like this.

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Q: Are home massages machines dangerous for pregnant women? What about home foot spas?

A: Using a home massage machine is like getting a massage from a therapist who doesn't care you are pregnant and has no training in pregnancy massage - it is not recommended. The instructions of many home massage machines include not to be used during pregnancy. The same applies to home foot spas, the instructions of many home foot spa include not to be used during pregnancy.

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Q: If home foot spas are a concern, what about having a pedicure?

A: A pedicure should not include a bubbling foot spa (a foot soak in water is OK, it is the vibration and jets that are a concern). Care should also be used during the foot massage section of a pedicure - a light massage should be alright, but a firmer massage from someone that does not know what areas to avoid on the feet should not be allowed.  This is why it is important to see someone with appropriate training. See I heard you shouldn't have your feet massaged when you are pregnant. Is that true?

 

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If you have a pregnancy massage question not answered here, please contact us and we'll do our best to answer it for you.



Services/Pregnancy Massage

 

Here is a link to some general Pregnancy FAQs, not massage related.

Back to the pregnancy home page

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Based in Sydney, Australia, offering ka huna massage, day spa treatments, aromatherapy, Ayurvedic massage, LaStone Therapy (hot rock massage), Sacred Stone massage, pregnancy massage, (prenatal massage), postnatal massage, Reconnective Healing, The Reconnection and remedial massage. Clinic in the Hills District of Sydney, or home visits available across much of Sydney. Gift certificates available.  Pamper Days, spa parties and hens parties catered for.  Baulkham Hills NSW 2153, Australia

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