The benefits of massage in pregnancy include decreased back and leg pain, increased skin hydration, help prevent stretch marks, improve self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, and even contribute to the depression. Therefore, massage is a good natural strategy to improve the quality of life of women at this stage with so many physical and emotional changes.
However, many massages are contraindicated during gestation, because they can increase blood circulation, stimulate reflex points, increase intra-abdominal pressure or cause uterine contraction and may be harmful to the baby. Thus, it is best to perform only a special massage for pregnant women performed by a specialized therapist to take advantage of all its benefits safely and effectively.
Types of massages for pregnant women
Some good examples of massages that can be performed during pregnancy are:
Manual lymphatic drainage ;
Foot massage or reflexology;
Whatsu, which is similar to Shiatsu, but is made in water.
There is also another massage indicated for pregnant women that is the pelvic massage, which should only be performed in the final stage of gestation by the woman herself or her partner, directly in the intima and perineum to prepare the body, increasing the flexibility of the pelvic muscles, stimulating normal delivery. This massage should be guided by a professional who specializes in this method.
Contraindications of massage in pregnancy
There are cases where the pregnant woman can not be massaged during pregnancy:
Uncontrolled high blood pressure, because the blood pressure can rise during the massage,
Deep venous thrombosis because the thrombus may travel and reach the heart or lung and
Kidney failure because excess fluids will be directed to the kidneys and if they are not efficient in filtration, they can be injured.
Massages should also not be performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, because at this stage the risk of the woman losing the baby is greater and it is better not to risk it.
Essential care during massage for pregnant women
The total duration of the massage should not exceed 40 minutes and this can be performed whenever the woman wishes, although some frequency is recommended as at least 1 or 2 times a week, so that the benefits can be achieved.
The following reflex points should not be stimulated: Median position between the thumb and forefinger, inside the knees and also around the ankles, because they favor uterine contraction.
The massage can be performed with sweet almond oil, grape seed oil or a moisturizing cream preferably suitable for massage, because it slides better on the skin, being more slowly absorbed than a common moisturizing cream. You need to be careful with the essential oils present in some oils and moisturizers, because they are made from medicinal plants and not all of them can be used in pregnancy. Know some plants contraindicated in pregnancy that can not be ingested, but that can also be harmful if they are absorbed by the skin.
Ideal position for the pregnant to receive massage
The essential thing is to never press the belly, and therefore who has a special stretcher for pregnant women, which has an opening in the middle, has more advantage when it is necessary to treat the back, but if this stretcher is not accessible, pillows and supports can help maintain the woman’s comfort while ensuring her relaxation throughout the massage.
To massage the face, chest and belly: lying on the belly up
The woman should have her legs resting on a triangle-shaped cushion that allows her legs to flex, and the knees are high because this prevents the increase of the intra-abdominal pressure and gives greater comfort and support to the spine. However, this position may slightly decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the baby and so the woman should not be in that position for too long.
The massage on the belly should be very soft and should not last longer than 2 minutes, because it may favor uterine contraction.
To massage the neck, back and legs: lying sideways or sitting
It is more appropriate for the woman to lie on the left side of the body during the massage and the cushions may be positioned under the head and between the legs, the body may be slightly inclined forward. Some pregnant women prefer not to support one leg over the other, but to leave the leg that is more on top of the body relaxed but supported with the knee on the stretcher, a little further ahead of the body.
If this position is still not very comfortable, you can receive the massage on the back and neck while sitting with your head and arms resting on another chair, as long as you can relax in that position.