By Lisa LaMaitre
Health Writer, Wellness Presenter, Lifestyle Adviser, Business Owner
What Do You Need to Know
I’ve been in the massage industry for more than 18 years and one of the wonderful things that has burgeoned during this time is pregnancy massage.
In my Canberra practice, pregnancy massage is our second-most booked treatment, behind remedial massage. Massage therapy during pregnancy can be the perfect way for an expectant mum to tune in to her body and her needs during this special time.
A pregnant mother’s body adapts, shifts and changes to accommodate as the weight of her baby increases. It is these musculoskeletal changes that often result in the aches, pains and swelling associated with pregnancy.
Normally massage therapy is allowed from conception through to labour/birth. If you have a history of miscarriage or other health concerns (such as morning sickness), however, then massage therapy may not be allowed during the first trimester.
The best way to find a massage therapist experienced with pregnancy massage is to ask friends, colleagues and family members for recommendations. Otherwise, start Googling to find a local therapist.
Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the person you are looking to book with.
Some of the questions to consider include:
- How long have you been practising?
Generally the longer someone has been practising the more experience they will have with pregnant clients.
- Which massage association are you a member of?
There are a number of massage associations in Australia. It’s through these associations that therapists receive their professional indemnity insurance. If a therapist is not a member of an association, then they may not be insured.
- Do you have health fund recognition?
Health fund recognition is attained through minimum standards of training and through being a member of a professional association. If someone does not have health fund recognition (regardless of whether you will be claiming or not), then they may have trained a number of years ago (prior to national standards taking effect) or may not have sufficient training to be eligible as a provider. This is a good question to gauge the level of training of any potential therapist.
- Did your course include specific pregnancy massage training?
Pregnancy massage is covered briefly in the Certificate IV Massage Therapy qualification. Ideally you want a therapist who has more training and experience with pregnancy massage. I would advise people to find a therapist with a minimum Diploma qualification, as they have more training in anatomy and physiology, and a better understanding of how the body works.
- How many pregnancy massages have you given?
Again, the more experience the better.
- When was the last time you treated a pregnant client?
With recent experience, the therapist will be more confident and comfortable in adapting their massage routine for a pregnant client.
When you phone/email to book your massage treatment let the therapist or clinic know that you require a pregnancy massage. I would expect you to be asked how many weeks pregnant you are, and if you have had any complications or concerns during your pregnancy to date.
If you have had any issues while you are pregnant, it doesn’t mean you can’t be massaged. It may mean that the therapist and you will need to contact your GP or Ob/Gyn for clearance, or that the massage may need to be adapted in some way for you. If your therapist isn’t offering this level of service to you, I would suggest they are not very experienced with pregnancy massage.
It’s worth noting that there are normally no remedial massage techniques applied to the lower back or pelvis during any stage of pregnancy. Nor are any trigger point techniques applied to the feet and lower legs. This is to reduce the risk of miscarriage or early labour.
As pregnancy develops our mums-to-be normally find themselves unable to lie face down. Research has shown that the best position for mum and bub is to be lying on the side. This position minimises stress on uterine ligaments and musculoskeletal structures, and when provided with bolsters and pillows helps mums comfortably relax and enjoy their massage treatment.
Also important to know is that in the last trimester of pregnancy mums-to-be need to be positioned differently when lying on their backs. They require a bolster placed under the right hip, which tips the mum-to-be to her left, to allow for greater comfort and improved body functioning for both mother and bub.
What we generally see from our pregnancy clients is that monthly massages in the second trimester become fortnightly or weekly treatments in the last trimester. If your schedule can’t commit to regular treatments during your pregnancy, even one massage will help you feel more relaxed.
Massage therapists love helping mums-to-be feel calm and connected to the new life they are creating.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. Visit www.thefibusymum.com.au