Massage, as amazing as it is, should not be considered a luxury but a necessity for many moments of our lives. At so many junctures the science of technique and the magic of simple touch can come together to make a real difference in our daily existence.
This article will look at the unique importance and power of massage through the child-bearing process. As a well-trained therapist, you can offer specific treatments appropriate to treat the challenges of our natural progression of life and in doing so, build your practice to be one that is diverse, exciting and truly successful.
Let’s start at the beginning. Pregnancy in many ways can be a great joy, it is also a massive strain on a woman’s entire being both mentally and physically; a true emotional and physical roller coaster.
Massage can ease so many of these symptoms. If a woman receives regular massage throughout her pregnancy, it can qualitatively change the experience, increase the health of both the mother and the child and in some cases make the birth an easier process.
The UK’s national health system has opened itself up to the importance of massage during pregnancy and it is now recommended by more and more midwives and GPs. It is important as a therapist to seek training in this area, not only to have the knowledge to best address the concerns of pregnancy, but to feel confident doing it.
Several professional bodies now require you to have a certificate in pregnancy massage in order to be insured to work with pregnant women. Jing’s certified training in pregnancy massage gives you the tools you need to address the individual concerns of your pregnant client.
Some common concerns
- Swelling in the ankles, wrists, joints and throughout the body
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Low back, hip and pelvic pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling out of control and lack of connection with the body
Let’s look at one of these conditions to see why as a massage therapist with the right skills, you could be the best person to help a soon-to-be mother.
Example: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many pregnant women experience tingling and pain down the arm, hand and wrist especially during the night, which wakes them up and makes it difficult to sleep. When it is brought to the attention of a GP, most of our clients have been told it is due to oedema (swelling due to water retention) on the wrist and it will only go away after birth. At least 50% of the time this is not the reason and as a massage therapist you are uniquely positioned to assess this and make a difference. Because many pregnant women sleep on their side, the nerve bundle called the brachial plexus can become impinged at the cervical vertebrae C5-T1 and or by hypertonic scalene muscles. With a combination of appropriate stretching, heat, trigger point therapy and soft tissue release, our therapists easily release the structures involved and significantly reduce this pain in one to three sessions.
Equally, if it is truly oedema on the wrist, there are simple manual drainage techniques including cold and hot massage, stretching, mobilisation of the joint and myofascial work that can quickly make a difference. This is the kind of treatment you can offer your clients in this ever developing stage of life.
Other benefits of pregnancy massage
- Reduction of cramping particularly in the lower legs.
- Improvement of the circulatory system, which promotes foetal health and decreases swelling, decreases the likelihood and pain of varicose veins and increased blood pressure.
- Back pain: extremely common in pregnancy. 56% of women report their first incidence of chronic back pain during pregnancy.
- Pain in one or both buttocks that radiates down the posterior leg can also be due to compression of the sciatic nerve by chronic piriformis tension. With the right training it can be effectively treated with trigger point therapy, myofascial release and stretching.
Massage sessions can also provide invaluable emotional support for pregnant woman. Even the most planned and wanted pregnancy can be filled with anxiety and confusion. Massage can help woman to reconnect with themselves and calm their mind and bodies. With out a doubt it should be part of every woman´s pregnancy.
When is it safe to massage a pregnant woman?
It is always safe to massage a pregnant woman provided you have the right training and knowledge. There are a few contraindications that prevent a therapist from using particular techniques; such as Pubic Symphasis Disorder. All good training should cover such contraindications, on Jing courses we spend time covering such material so you can be as confident as possible dealing with more complicated cases.
What position is best?
The side-lying position is the safest. In the supine position the uterus rests against the inferior vena cava (IVC). Extended compression of the vena cava will result in low maternal blood pressure and decreased circulation to both the mother and baby. Even with a specialised table, the prone position also can cause complications as it pulls on the lumbar spine and musculoskeletal structures.
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Many thanks to Choice Health Mag for the use of this article.