Being pregnant is no doubt the most awaited moment for a lady after marriage. As beautiful as it seems, many things are not very pleasant and discomforting, some of which are changes in posture, belly expansion, hormonal changes, backaches, losing balance, lack of sleep, etc. All these are uncomfortable for the lower body and even result in backaches. Back massage during pregnancy is an excellent way to combat backache, one of the most common pregnancy pains. Yet, it is important to assess how safe it is to have a back massage during pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Get A Back Massage During Pregnancy?
Prenatal massage, also known as pregnancy massage, is deemed safe for women after the first leg of pregnancy is over. It is, however, advisable to get a doctor’s consultation prior to the massage. It is even important to get a trained therapist for the massage. Additional precautions have to be taken and pregnancy massage should be avoided under certain circumstances1;
- If the pregnant woman is in the first trimester
- Having morning sickness or experiencing nausea
- High risks of the placenta being detached
- Swelling in either one or both the legs
- Having bleeding or abdominal pain
- Increase in blood flow
Benefits of taking back massages during pregnancy
Getting a massage during pregnancy has many positive effects for the mother as well as the baby. It helps to increase blood circulation and eases the pressure on different body parts due to additional pressure. It helps in preventing soreness, muscle tension, cramping, etc.
Though massage is totally not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy by health experts, it has its benefits in both the other trimesters. Some of the benefits are given as below:
Benefits of back massage in the second trimester
The second trimester is a time when nausea and morning sickness has taken a back seat. The belly is not that visible, but as time passes, the posture changes due to a shift of gravity, resulting in backaches. Getting a massage at this time helps in relieving different kinds of pains and aligns the body. Though it is seen that the second trimester is considered very easy, it is seen that all the benefits accruing from a massage help her to face the challenges of the third phase of pregnancy.
This is also the time when the woman becomes breathless. With a massage, the blood circulation and oxygen flow improve. There are many other benefits that are given as under:
- A massage at this time keeps the tissues healthy and prepares the body for the coming changes
- It helps in reducing the swelling in the legs and arms known as edema, which is the result of additional pressure on the blood vessels exerted by the uterus. A massage helps to reduce the swelling in joints
- It helps to ease back pains due to additional pressure from the baby as massaging helps to improve the oxygen flow to the tissues and the muscles
- If the body of a pregnant lady is kept in an inclined position or sideways while massaging, it helps to reduce the risk of acid reflux, heartburn, fatigue, joint and hip pain as well as nasal congestion
- Massaging helps to enhance the blood flow, thereby increasing the immune system and even removing toxins
- Massaging helps to increase the body’s flexibility and muscle tone which helps the mother carry the additional weight with ease
- Massaging keeps the blood pressure under control and keeps the heart healthy
- Reduces joint and other pains
- Offers better sleep
- Keeps the mother happy and calm
- Helps to reduce the labor pain at the time of delivery.
- Reduces muscle tension and headaches
- It helps to combat mood stabilization and depression.
Benefits of back massage in the third trimester
The third trimester is the best time for a massage. This is the time when the fetus is almost ready to become a baby. As a mother, one has experienced her share of morning sickness, aches, joint issues, belly weight issues, etc. Back massage is an excellent way to unwind from the pregnancy and emotional pressure that heightens during this time.
Apart from this, some other benefits are:
- Massaging helps to lower anxiety levels
- It even releases dopamine and serotonin into the body, which are the feel-good hormones that keep the mother calm and happy
- A good massage even helps the mother to sleep and peacefully
- It helps to reduce the pain and swelling and keeps depression and anxiety at bay
- It reduces cortisol levels which offer relaxation to the mother
- Back massage in the third trimester is good for the sciatic nerve as it is common at this time, but a massage helps to relax the nerves and helps to reduce the pain as well
- It helps to facilitate the faster and smoother delivery of the baby as it offers a sedating effect on the nervous system
- Research shows that a woman who gets massages bi-weekly shows less cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones) and increased dopamine and serotonin levels (feel-good hormones). The hormonal balance of this type in the body further resulted in stabilizing the mood and offering better birth results
Related Reading: 15 Home Remedies For Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
How To Safely Massage Your Back At Home During Pregnancy?
Massage can either be done through a therapist or even in the comfort of your own home. This is the time when some pampering is helpful as it keeps the mother happy and calm. This is even good for the baby. It is totally not recommended to go for a massage in the first trimester, but for the other two trimesters, certain tips can be followed, and a safe massage can be done by following the correct techniques and positions.
- It is important to know that there are few positions that are comfortable for the mother-to-be at this time.
- Lying sideways on the floor
- Kneeling down position
- Always keep the belly rested with pillows
- Pillow to support the head as well as the back
- One more pillow to offer comfort to the leg as well
2. The process of massaging: The correct technique of massage is very important to reap the maximum benefits. A few tips on this concern are:
- Neck: The shoulder muscles should be massaged using the thumbs to ease the neck pain
- Legs: The legs should be massaged in either a circular or sideways motion, beginning from the foot to the buttocks
- Back: The massage should start from the top, moving down to the neck and shoulders. It should be done by applying light pressure with fingers or knuckles in a circular motion
- Buttocks: Never massage the tailbone directly; instead, massage the base of the spine very gently
- Hands and feet: During pregnancy, fluid retention leads to swelling in the hands and feet. Massage helps to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling. Massage should be done with the help of the thumb moving to the center of the body
Related Reading: 6 Ways To Treat Neck Pain During Pregnancy
Precautions For Back Massage In Pregnancy
Back massage is highly beneficial during pregnancy, and it is not always mandatory. Yet there are a few precautions that have to be taken at each stage of pregnancy. As the fetus grows, the challenges increase. There are many times when the body is more vulnerable to being harmed. Let us have a look at the different tips that one must remember in different stages of pregnancy.
In the first trimester
Back massage during the first trimester of pregnancy is not recommended by health experts due to the high risk of miscarriage. Therapists only accept massage for pregnant women once the first trimester is over.
In the second trimester
Back massage during pregnancy’s second trimester is very soothing, yet there are many do’s and don’ts that are important to be followed.
- Never lie on your back during a massage as the blood vessels get compressed due to the increased weight of the uterus and the baby resulting in less blood circulation to the placenta
- One should not massage the belly; rather applying vitamin E oil helps to ease any itchiness and even prevent stretch marks
- Massage should be done on the muscles near the spine
- It is also good to massage a little on the shoulder to ease the pain
- Doing stretching or breathing exercises with the help of yoga is good at this time
- Always check with the practitioner prior to a massage, especially if you have morning sickness, fever, high blood pressure, bleeding, etc
- It is important to be cautious when getting on and off the table
- Back massage is not recommended if you have high blood sugar
In the third trimester
Back massage during the third trimester is very beneficial as it helps in relaxing the mind and the body. It also eases the stress and keeps the mother calm. Since this is the last one in the pregnancy, the baby is fully grown and the mother’s belly has expanded well, it is important to not put extra pressure on it and go slow and easy.
- When it comes to leg massage, light stroking or rubbing is fine, but deep tissue pressure should be avoided. Pregnancy raises the risk of blood clots in the legs because the volume of blood in your body increases. Consequently, a deep tissue massage on the legs could dislodge a clot
- Also, leg massage is not recommended if you have varicose veins
- It is important to be aware of the oils that are being used while massaging. A few aromatherapy oils like thyme, rosemary, or jasmine are known to induce early contractions
- This is the time when the baby is fully developed, so no pressure should be applied to the belly as it may harm the baby inside the womb
- Never lie on your back during the massage as it can put pressure on veins due to the increasing baby weight. It is, however, recommended to sit on a chair or lie on the left side and support the belly with a pillow while getting a massage done
Related Reading: Acupuncture During Pregnancy – Is It Safe
Pregnancy Massage: Where to Avoid Applying Pressure?
Massage is certainly very effective in relieving discomfort during pregnancy. However, certain areas should be avoided when it comes to pregnancy massage. You should avoid massaging pressure points if your body is overly sensitive and responds strongly to stimulation. Some of the reflexology areas in the body, like around the ankle of the body, the wrist, and between the fingers, serve as pressure points, according to reflexology.
Who Should Not Receive A Massage During Pregnancy?
There have been a lot of studies conducted on the potential dangers and advantages of massage for pregnant women. Massage should be avoided during pregnancy if you have a certain medical condition.
Massages are not recommended if you have:
- Placental issues like placenta previa
- Coagulation disorders or blood clots
- Has preeclampsia
- An increased risk of preterm labor
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
Thus, back massage during pregnancy is an excellent way to relax and ease the pain. The body releases endorphins that elevate a mood and reduce the pain while the massage is done. It even relieves the anxiety levels and makes it easier to manage the contractions during labor.