Prenatal massage, also known as pregnancy massage, is a modality of massage specifically geared to address the myriad changes that take place in the bodies of mothers-to-be. It provides the general benefits of massage therapy while also introducing some benefits specific to pregnant women. Once regarded somewhat dubiously as a risky modality, modern research has shown that not only are most of the risks overblown but that the benefits well outweigh any trepidation.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENEFITS
Massage therapy is increasingly found to have numerous benefits. For the pregnant client, massage can decrease stress, ease muscular tension, reduce joint pain, improve sleep, and alleviate anxiety; just like it can for any other client. But, prenatal massage can also ease labor, positively impact hormone balances, improve birth outcomes, and even increase the general health of newborns compared to those whose mothers did not receive prenatal massage. Many of these benefits are quantifiable but others, such as the psychological impact of an expectant mothers self-care or simply surrendering to being nurtured, are more delicately complex and understated, but none-the-less important.
Most massage therapists will be familiar with much of the basic theory and technique behind prenatal massage. However, pregnancy brings with it vast biological and physiological changes to the body. Carrying a baby will impact everything from posture to sleep patterns and can profoundly change how massage therapy should be applied. Most importantly, prenatal massage comes with a special set of indications and contraindications that require the massage therapist to modify techniques, propping, draping, and more. What’s more, some of these modifications will change throughout the pregnancy, a woman’s body will be quite different in the third trimester compared to the first. These differences will impact how massage therapy is performed.
CERTIFICATION IS ESSENTIAL
Because prenatal massage is more than just massaging someone who is pregnant, getting proper training is key. Massage therapists must be educated in the process of pregnancy from conception to birth and be able to adjust the application of massage techniques accordingly. While some of the contraindications, such as no deep pressure to the abdomen, may be obvious, others are more nuanced and require familiarity and guidance from an experience professional to fully grasp. Further, the prenatal massage therapist will need to understand some of the other potential issues that may arise, such as preeclampsia and edema, and be able to coordinate therapy with other health care professionals. For all of the aforementioned reasons, most doctors will strongly encourage patients to seek out a certified prenatal massage therapist. Hence, being certified in prenatal massage is a key ingredient to receiving referrals and creating a healthy prenatal massage practice.
WHY SHOULD YOU LEARN IT?
As the known benefits of prenatal massage continue to expand, so do the numbers of expectant mothers who seek to add massage to their prenatal care regimen. This is reflected in the fact that prenatal massage has been one of the most requested modalities year after year right along side Swedish massage and deep tissue. As such, many massage clinics, hospitals, and spas are increasingly requiring their massage therapists to be certified in prenatal massage.
Even if you are in private practice, there is a good chance that your existing female clientele will be among the 6.2 million women who become pregnant in the US each year. Being able to provide them with quality prenatal massage therapy ensures a consistency of care and the ability to retain them as clients throughout their pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Besides, being a part of a mother’s journey through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is extremely rewarding. The real question is, why wouldn’t you learn prenatal massage?
If you would like to learn more about prenatal massage and receive training and certification from one of the bay area’s most experienced prenatal massage educators, check out our upcoming “Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage” workshop with Leah Kennedy, CMT.
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