3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Massage in Pregnancy

Massage in Pregnancy

Apart from having physical benefits, massage is a way in which your partner can help and feel involved in your pregnancy. Let him know what feels good, play some relaxing music and light some candles. Massage is not just for labour, it is a way of helping you to get in touch with your body, release tension and clear your mind. We express affection through touch, so massage can also be comforting.

Positions for Massage

As your pregnancy progresses, you will need to adopt different positions in order to receive massage, using pillows for support. For a back massage, you may feel more comfortable straddling a straight-backed chair (using a pillow to make yourself comfortable) but, by the fifth month, lying sideways is advisable, with plenty of pillows around your stomach area and under your upper legs. This position is also useful for massage during the early stages of labour.

Safety First

Always observe the following safety precautions:

  • Do not give body massage during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Do not use intense pressure or vigorous strokes, especially on the abdomen, inner thigh and groin.
  • Do not apply pressure around and across the top of the ankles, because these points relate to the ovaries and the womb.
  • Up to week 12, do not use essential oils in any form. Certain oils are not suitable at any stage of pregnancy, so either use a pre-mixed blend designed especially for the purpose or consult a qualified aromatherapist.
  • Do not massage varicose or spider veins.
  • Use less pressure over joint areas and work along either side of the spine, not directly over it.
  • Avoid lying on your back in late pregnancy.

Leg and ankle massage

During pregnancy, leg massage can be an excellent means of reducing water retention and relieving that 'heavy leg'feeling.

  1. Make sure that your partner's back and legs are well supported and that she is comfortable. Place the pads of both thumbs at the top of her shin on the outer edge of the leg, where the bone widens. Apply gentle but firm pressure three to five times.
  2. Moving down her leg, support her foot with one hand and place the thumb pad of your other hand about four finger-widths above the inner ankle bone, again applying gentle but firm pressure three to five times.
  3. Move down to her toes and, with one hand supporting her foot, take her little toe between your index finger and thumb. Pull and squeeze in a downward movement, rotating the toe very slightly from the base to the tip. Do this to each toe in turn. Repeat these steps with the other leg, finishing by holding your partner's feet gently for at least 30 seconds.

Neck and lower back massage

This area is often the weakest and most troublesome, and muscle tension here leads to the shoulders being held unnaturally high by the end of the day.

Neck and Lower Back Massage
Starting at the lower back, with your hands flat on either side of her spine, glide them up her back, across her shoulders and return to the starting position. In all back massage, the pressure is on the up stroke. Repeat this three to five times. Work up her back again, making small circles in opposite directions, until you reach the shoulders. Return as before. Repeat three to five times. Working on one side at a time glide across her shoulder blade.Then separate your hands, bringing one around the shoulder and the other around the armpit, pulling back gently as you return to your starting position. Repeat this three to five times and then move to the other side. Bring your hands gently down to your partner's shoulders and rest them there for about 30 seconds. Then, with your thumbs on the muscle at the back of the neck and your fingers over the front of the shoulders, begin to squeeze the shoulder muscles between the heels of your hands and your fingers, working outwards towards the tops of her arms and then back in. Repeat this three to five times. Splaying your fingers slightly, rest them on either side of her breastbone (sternum), at the top of the breast tissue. With the pads of your fingers, massage the muscle between the upper ribs, working outwards from the breastbone to the edge of the ribcage. Repeat each stroke three to five times then move up to the next rib muscle. Ask your partner to take a few deep breaths between strokes.

When and where to massage

Concentrate on areas other than your bump, which should be given no more than a light stroking.

week 1-12 head or face massage can soothe away headaches. do not massage the body .

week 12-28 ladigestion and insomnia are common, and massage of the back, shoulders and buttocks will aid relaxation and sleep. The abdomen can be massaged but only with light, gentle strokes.

Weeks 29-40 Massage should concentrate on the back, neck, shoulders and particularly the legs to relieve fatigue. The lower back and buttocks can be massaged during labour to help the process along.