Congratulations! You are having a baby. Welcoming a new member into your family is exciting and joyous for everyone involved. But the excitement is not without its anxiety, and sometimes even fear of what is to come.
The stages of pregnancy present unique developmental changes for your baby as well as unique physical and emotional changes form you too. Understanding these changes – and where massage fits in – can help you feel supported, nurtured, and empowered as you enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
The First Trimester, 0-13 weeks:
Perhaps you have missed your period, or you’ve been tracking your cycle, or undergoing IVF transfers. You may have peed on a stick or had a blood test. And it is confirmed. Two pink lines. hCG. You have a baby on board!
In the first trimester, for 0 to 13 weeks gestation, there will be tremendous changes on your hormones, which can cause headaches, fatigue, and mood swings. You will experience constipation and frequent urination as the uterus presses on the bladder. Breasts can feel heavy, swollen and tender. Cravings or distaste for certain foods in common, as well as “morning sickness” and nausea. While the first trimester is elevated risk time for miscarriage, there is no evidence to suggest that massage causes miscarriage. However, your pregnancy massage specialist may request medical consent prior to treatment if you have had more than two consecutive miscarriages.
Massage in the First Trimester:
Massage in the first trimester has a focus on relaxation to aid circulation and support physical changes. Care is taken, especially is mum is experiencing nausea. Treatment can be performed either prone (with mum lying face down on her tummy) with appropriate pillow supports, or if preferred mum can lie on her side. It is recommended to receive treatment every four weeks.
Second Trimester, 14 – 26 weeks:
You have made it through the first trimester, morning sickness is resolved and now you can bask in the pregnancy glow, reclining on a banana lounge, mocktail in hand! Hmmm, not quite.
During the second trimester, body aches become more common. Most women experience back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain due to hormones causing tendons and ligaments to relax. Postural changes are common as the body tries to accommodate the growing foetus, causing a strain on the lower and upper back. It is also common for the ankles, fingers, and face to swell.
Massage in the Second Trimester:
A specialised pregnancy massage treatment may focus on hip and lower back pain, due to the onset of Relaxin. Hip pain may be the result of postural changes and tight glute muscles. Pelvic instability may be alleviated by massaging the adductor. Massage treatment often includes abdominal massage to support postural changes and bring balance to the body. It is recommended to receive treatment every four weeks.
Third Trimester, 27-40 weeks:
The countdown is on! You are hot and sweaty, exhausted and you can’t seem to get to sleep, and uncomfortable, just incredibly uncomfortable. And you want this baby out!
During the third trimester, you may have difficulty in sleeping, due to comfort levels, foetal movement, or muscle cramps. Breast tenderness may continue as the breasts prepare for milk production. The baby may put extra pressure on your bladder, causing frequent urination. You may experience heartburn as baby your organs rearrange to accommodate the baby, and swelling may occur at your ankles, fingers, and face.
Massage in the Third Trimester:
The focus of massage during the third trimester is comfort. A specialist pregnancy massage helps alleviate stress on strained muscles in the back, hips, and shoulders. Gentle massage over the abdomen can promote connection with mother and baby and enhance relaxation. By 36 weeks, massage treatments can be scheduled weekly. Massage can also focus on the low back and glutes to provide relief for pelvic, hip and ligament pain.
Fourth Trimester, 0-12 weeks Postpartum:
The fourth trimester is the fist twelve weeks following the birth of your baby. It is a time of immense physical and emotional changes as you adjust to the demands of motherhood and as baby gets used to life in the outside world. Sleep-deprivation and exhaustion are common as personal self-care often goes out the window as you struggle to find balance between looking after yourself and your baby. Your body is still recovering from pregnancy and labour. It can be a challenging time to adjust to this new role.
Massage in the Fourth Trimester:
Massage during the fourth trimester can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. It can also improve the health and wellbeing of mum. And we all know that if you look after mum, you look after the whole family. Massage can assist with labour recovery and alleviate physical and mental exhaustion. It can reduce stress, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Massage may also focus on rebalancing postural changes, provide relief from breastfeeding posture, reducing general pain, and aid the repair of scar tissue from a cesarean birth.
Massage serves a specific role at each stage of pregnancy and postpartum. It is not surprising then that a relaxed and well-supported mum will experience reduced feelings of anxiety and depression, increased feelings of relaxation and a sense of control when it is time to give birth.
Are you ready to make massage a part of your pregnancy journey? Click here.